Rakuten to buy Singapore video startup Viki reportedly for $200M

Rakuten to buy Singapore video startup Viki reportedly for $200M

Summary: The Japanese e-commerce giant is set to snap up the crowdsourced video subtitling site, which has been dubbed "Hulu for the rest of the world".

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Singapore startup Viki, which streams videos with crowdsourced subtitles, is reportedly set to be acquired by Japanese e-commerce giant.

The purchase price is US$200 million, according to sources cited by AllThingsD on Monday. The news site had cited confirmation of the deal from Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

"Our foundation is not only limited to e-commerce, but an intention to strengthen our ecosystem in Japan and worldwide," Mikitani said in the article. He added the company had been looking into finding a global solution for video.

Rakuten has been making an aggressive push outside Japan to expand and diversify its business over the years, such as its acquisition of Buy.com in the U.S. in 2010, and investments in Pinterest and e-book business Kobo.

According to Razmig Hovaghimian, Viki CEO and co-founder, his company's vision is well-aligned with Rakuten's in building a borderless digital ecosystem. "We've built a truly global TV platform, with and for the fans, allowing content owners to reach the world in any language."

He elaborated in a statement that with Rakuten, Viki can now focus on building an entertainment ecosystem that seamlessly allows viewers and content partners to jump across platforms, and interact with relevant Rakuten products and services.

The acquisition will also allow Rakuten to leverage Viki's global footprint, content and language analytics, the statement added.

viki fx
A South Korean music video is subtitled in English by volunteers. (credit: Viki)

Story behind Viki

Viki's videos have been translated to nearly 170 languages. The video streaming service relies on a community of volunteers managing the channel, adding and refining subtitles under a Creative Commons license. Its subtitling technology allows thousands of fans to collaborate in multiple languages at the same time.

Currently, Viki has over 22 million viewers a month, and 1 billion videos viewed per year, such as TV shows, movies and music videos. The company has 50 employees across offices in San Francisco, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo.

The company was set up in 2010 and has the backing of investors such as  Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Neoteny Labs, SK Telecom, SingTel, BBCWorldwide, and 500 StartUps

Viki also has partnerships in place to grow in the China market, wjere it has partnerships with Renren and Sina Weibo, China's version of Facebook and Twitter respectively.

How the Viki concept works

Topics: Start-Ups, E-Commerce, Singapore, Japan

About

Loves caption contests, leisurely strolls along supermarket aisles and watching How It's Made. Ryan has covered finance, politics, tech and sports for TV, radio and print. He is also co-author of best seller "Profit from the Panic". Ryan is an editor at ZDNet's Asia/Singapore office.

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