Google, DST Make Play For AOL's ICQ

A number of companies are pursuing AOL’s ICQ instant messaging product, we’re hearing. Russian press is saying DST (a recent Facebook investor) is talking about buying the service. Our sources say they’re a relatively new bidder to the process, and others continue to show interest. One of those interested parties is Google. Another, at least at one point, was Skype.

ICQ, which AOL acquired in 1998 for $400 million, has 33 million worldwide monthly users, according to Comscore. But 8.3 million of those are in Russia, where it hold the no. 1 spot for instant messaging. That explains DST’s interest. It also explains some of Google’s interest as they struggle to get a proper foothold in that market.

The end price for ICQ may be higher than $250 million.

Rumors of ICQ’s possible sale were first reported in mid November. We’d heard speculation that Naspers was interested late last month but have since dropped out of the bidding process.