It was no secret that AOL was looking for a buyer for ICQ for quite a while now, and it found one in Russian investment company Digital Sky Technologies. The company already owns a portion of Facebook and Zynga.
ICQ is a bit of a fallen legend; the Israeli-based company Mirabilis created it in 1996, setting the standards for desktop-based instant messaging. Still, it became quite bloated over the years, prompting many users to switch to lightweight alternatives such as Miranda (Miranda IM), Digsby (Digsby) and Gtalk (Gtalk).
AOL acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for $407 million; now it sold it for less than half the amount: $187.5 million. The full announcement is below.
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