Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Sold! Finally: Digital Sky Technologies Buys AOL’s ICQ

AOL clears another asset off its books, just in time for Q1 earnings: Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian investors with a seemingly insatiable appetite for American Web properties (Facebook, Zynga, etc), is buying Tim Armstrong’s ICQ chat service. They’re paying $187.5 million cash, and AOL expects the deal to close in Q3.

AOL has been auctioning off the service since last fall. By February, it had narrowed the field to four buyers, who were looking to pay around $200 million, Kara Swisher reported. Release:

DIGITAL SKY TECHNOLOGIES TO ACQUIRE AOL’S ICQ INSTANT MESSAGING SERVICE

Moscow / New York – April 28, 2010 – AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Digital Sky Technologies Limited (DST), the largest Internet company in the Russian-speaking and Eastern European markets, announced today that they have reached an agreement for DST to acquire ICQ – the leading instant messaging service in Russia and a number of other international markets – for $187.5 million.

ICQ was created in 1996 by the Israeli company Mirabilis. AOL acquired the assets of Mirabilis, primarily ICQ, in June 1998. Available in 16 languages, ICQ has more than 32 million unique visitors per month.* Approximately 80 percent of ICQ users are between the ages of 13 and 29 and spend an average of more than five hours a day connected to the service, according to internal data. ICQ has built a successful presence in markets like Russia, Germany, Czech Republic and Israel.

“The acquisition of ICQ is a strategic enhancement of our business in Russia and Eastern Europe.  ICQ’s long-standing brand name and its sizeable loyal customer base together represent a very attractive opportunity to further strengthen our position in the region,” said Yuri Milner, Chief Executive Officer of DST.

“As AOL continues its turnaround effort, we’re fortunate to find a great home for ICQ with DST,” said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AOL. “DST is a leading innovator in the Internet investment space and has a significant presence in the markets where ICQ is strong. Founded and run in Israel, ICQ has been a revolutionary company on the Internet. We wish them great success as a part of DST and will be rooting for them going forward.”

*February 2010 comScore Media Metrix data


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