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After making a big jump into e-books a few years ago, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is once again following in Amazon’s footsteps by purchasing Viki, a popular international video site, reports AllThingsD.
Rakuten isn’t officially disclosing the price of the deal, but according to AllThingsD it’s worth $200 million. Rakuten spent $315 million cash for the e-book reader company Kobo in 2011, and last year it led a $100 million funding round in Pinterest.
Viki functions a lot like Hulu: It offers a wide variety of international shows, makes money from ads, and also has subscription plans available. But what makes the site truly special is its technology for crowdsourcing subtitling for shows. Fans can use Viki’s technology to collaborate on Creative Commons-licensed translations for their favorite shows. (Viki’s name is a combination of “video” and “wiki.”)
The site clearly has an international audience locked in, but it also has the potential to attract people in English-speaking countries who want access to shows from all over the world. Viki also fits right into Rakuten’s recent expansion into digital media. In many ways, Viki seems more useful than Amazon’s Prime video service, as it offers significantly more than just content — it brings audiences together.
Viki has raised around $24.3 million from investors including Grelock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and Charles River Ventures.
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