As War for Web Messaging Users Grows, Rakuten Buys Viber for $900 Million

He recently lost the pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to the New York Yankees, but Hiroshi Mikitani, the billionaire owner of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, may now have found some solace.On Friday, Rakuten said it would buy Viber Media, which runs a popular app for calling and messaging, for $900 million.The move by Rakuten would bolster Mr. Mikitani’s fast-growing empire, whose businesses already include the Rakuten online marketplace, a travel agency, credit cards and the baseball team Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, which once had Mr. Tanaka on its roster.

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