We’ve heard PopSugar is the latest online content company that Japanese conglomerate Rakuten is about to snap up. These things could always fall apart, but should the deal go through, we’re told it will happen in the next couple of weeks and that Rakuten will buy PopSugar for $580 million.
To put this in perspective, AOL bought the Huffington Post, putting forth a combined 117 million unique U.S. visitors per month at the time for $300 million in 2011. PopSugar gets about 41 million unique visitors per month, according to the site.
While that seems like a huge purchase price for an online celebrity news site, it follows on the heels of several other pricey content acquisitions for Rakuten in the last couple of years, including digital content distributor OverDrive for $410 million last month. We’re told that Rakuten gets a lot of inbound acquisition requests and that it is willing to pay top dollar for digital content companies, in particular.
According to a source familiar with the matter, PopSugar has been shopping itself around for the last couple of months and Rakuten, with about $16 billion in the bank, looked like a lucrative choice to the online media site.
While Rakuten is not as well-known in the U.S., it’s big in Japan, with fingers in everything from credit cards and banking, e-commerce, smartphones, a Hulu-like international TV show site called Viki and even a professional Japanese baseball team.
According to multiple sources, the company has been eager to get its products into the U.S. market and has been buying up content companies and investing in U.S. startups to help accomplish this. It recently handed over $300 million for a 11.9 percent stake in ride-hailing startup Lyft.
PopSugar’s advertising section claims an audience made up of mostly affluent women ready to shop. Its fashion brand site ShopStyle made $1.2 billion in sales for retail partners in 2014, according to Women’s Wear Daily. This would make the online media site with celebrity-focused headlines an ideal buy for the corporate conglomerate to push its products through to a U.S. market.
We’ve reached out to both PopSugar and Rakuten about the possible acquisition but so far have not heard back from either company. We’ll be sure to update you if we do.