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Sources report that Singaporian startup Viki is to be acquired by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Having been dubbed “Hulu for the rest of the world”, Viki streams videos using crowdsourced subtitles. As the name also suggests, it uses both elements of Video and Wiki to gather and stream video content to much larger audiences. This acquisition will further add to both companies’ plans to further expand their markets.
Viki CEO and co-founder Razmig Hovaghimian said: “We’ve built a truly global TV platform, with and for the fans, allowing content owners to reach the world in any language.” Based in Singapore and established in 2010, the Viki co-founder further notes that this acquisition will add to both companies’ vision of building a borderless digital platform.
According to AllThingsD, the purchase is worth US$200-million. AllThingsD also quotes confirmation of the acquisition from Rakuten CEO Mikitani who said the following:
“There are a striking number of synergies and shared philosophies between our two businesses; the Viki model is built on a powerful community, focused on removing the language barriers that have traditionally trapped great content inside geographical borders. Since our foundation, Rakuten’s focus too has been to open up great services, content and goods to a global community. Viki is a perfect complement to Rakuten’s joint philosophies of Empowerment and Shopping IS entertainment.”
Like many ecommerce giants recently, Rakuten has been pushing to diversify as well as expand internationally. In 2010, the Japanese company acquired US-based Buy.com as well as Wuaki.tv. The US$16-billion internet services ecosystem also had major investments in other companies such as Pinterest and major stakes in ebook business Kobo.
In recent years Rakuten has been struggling to compete with Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and web store.
Viki, on the other hand, has videos that have been translated into close to 170 different languages worldwide. It has a strong support base in Southeast Asia but hopes to further expand to Eastern Europe and Latin America. According to AllThingsD, Viki can now focus on creating an ecosystem where users can interact with digital media as well as Rakuten products.