Japan e-commerce giant Rakuten is set to purchase Viki, a streaming video site based in Singapore, Seoul, and San Francisco. The purchase price is USD 200M, said sources with knowledge of the situation.
If true, this makes it the biggest ever acquisition of a web and mobile startup based in Southeast Asia. Detik of Indonesia was bought for USD 60M, while Singapore’s sgCarMart was purchased for USD 48M.
Rakuten’s foundation is not limited to e-commerce, said CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. The company has been finding a global solution for video. It has invested in social bookmarking site Pinterest and has purchased e-book platform Kobo for USD 315M.
Viki offers television shows, movies and music videos that are accessible globally. Its unique feature is its crowdsourced subtitling in a variety of languages, contributed by the user community. The translations carry a Creative Commons license.
The website’s videos have been translated into almost 170 languages. It is growing fast in Southeast Asia, but is expanding into Latin America and Europe. Viki generates revenue from in-stream advertising, subscription fees, and data.
Investors have contributed USD 25M to Viki. They include: Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Omidyar Network, Charles River Ventures and Neoteny Labs. Joi Ito, who founded Neoteny Labs, is on its board.
While the valuation sounds spectacular, it’s unclear how much late investors made from the sale.
Assuming a Series B round of USD 20M at 20 percent equity, these investors would be getting roughly a 2x return, which is middle-of-the-road but probably not a home-run. Early investors like Neoteny Labs, however, are likely to receive a much higher return.