Kobo Closes Book on $50 Million Round to Fuel International Growth

Kobo has raised $50 million in capital to go head to head against Amazon, Apple, Google and others.

The e-book company will need all the cash it can get.

All three of its major competitors have deep pockets and all the motivation in the world to become the dominant players in e-books as a starting beachhead before branching into other digital content.

The Toronto-based company, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in December, said the round was led by an undisclosed leading institutional investor.

Existing investors, including Indigo Books & Music and Cheung Kong Holdings, also participated in the round by contributing $13 million.

In a release, Kobo’s CFO Greg Twinney said: “Kobo will use the new funding to continue its explosive growth internationally. As the eReading space continues to heat up, Kobo is committed to providing an innovative experience that lets consumers read anytime, anyplace and share their love of reading with friends.”

Kobo kicked off its European expansion last week, with the announcement of its plans to launch local content stores in Germany. Local additions are also coming for Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Kobo’s competition is extremely stiff.

Amazon has dominated the space, announcing that it now sells more e-books than it does paperbacks and hardcovers. Last week, it announced the $114 Kindle that’s subsidized by ads, which will likely fuel adoption of its e-reader and its proprietary e-books.

Some of Kobo’s recent achievements include:

  • An e-book store that has more than 2.3 million e-books, newspapers and magazines.
  • More than 3.2 million users, more than 1 million new users in the past 90 days.

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    Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

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