Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer of Rakuten Inc., poses for a photograph following an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Mikitani is plowing cash into technologies such as mobile applications and online video as he seeks to expand Rakuten beyond its core business as an online marketplace. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By TIME Video
March 21, 2014

Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive officer and founder of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, said he plans to turn Viber into an e-commerce platform. “We are going to sell everything [on Viber]: we’re going to sell e-books, we’re going to sell content, games,” Mikitan told CNN. Rakuten, the owner of Kobo e-readers and online retailer, recently paid an eye-popping $900 million dollars to purchase Viber, a popular messaging platform.

There is big money to be made on these messaging platforms. WhatsApp says it has more than 400 million monthly users. Skype reports close to 300 million users worldwide. In an interview with Bloomberg, Mikitani said he wants to see its user base grow to a whopping two billion. And now, Rakuten is looking for other streams of revenue. “E-commerce is entering into what I call the ‘humanization stage.'” said Mikitani. “We’re not trying to become a huge vending machine, we’re trying to replicate face to face human transaction using the information technology.”


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