Viber, a Tel Aviv-based mobile messaging app, has made Boston its US headquarters. The messaging and calling service, which was acquired by Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc. in 2014 for $900 million, has more than 600 million global users.
Viber Media was founded in 2010 and plans to move into its own space in Boston’s Leather District, Innovation District, or Back Bay in 2016, said Scott Nelson, head of Viber North America. The Boston Business Journal first reported the news on Friday morning.
Boston beat out Silicon Valley and New York for three reasons: creativity and innovation, the technology culture, and the youth culture, Nelson said.
“Our app is targeting that younger generation, so the overall youth culture that Boston brings is appealing,” he said. The target demographic in the US is the 18 to 24 year olds.
Five Viber employees have been working at WeWork, a co-working space in Boston, for about three months, and the company plans to employ up to 20 individuals. The company is based in Tel Aviv and has an additional office in London.
More news from Viber is expected in November as the company invests “substantial marketing dollars” in Boston with events, advertising, partnerships with local companies, and university programs, Nelson said.
Viber’s competition includes WhatsApp (bought by Facebook Inc. in 2012 for $22 billion), Skype, and Chinese-messaging app WeChat. Calls within Viber are free; Viber Out allows Viber users to call mobile and landline numbers worldwide at low rates.
Viber had first said in July it planned to establish a new US marketing hub and integrated campaign for Viber over the next six months, according to a press release.