Dating juggernaut Match buys Seoul-based Hyperconnect for $1.73B, its biggest acquisition ever

In a large win for the Korean startup ecosystem, dating powerhouse Match Group announced this afternoon that it would buy social networking company Hyperconnect for a combined cash and stock deal valued at $1.73 billion.

Hyperconnect, which is projected to have $200 million in revenue in 2020 (up 50% from 2019) according to the company, offers two apps — Azar and Hakuna Live — which allow users to connect to each other across language barriers. The two are complementary, with Azar focused on one-to-one video chats and Hakuna Live focused on the online live broadcast market. In their press statement, the companies noted that 75% of Hyperconnect’s revenue originates in Asia.

It’s the largest acquisition to date by Match Group, which also owns the popular dating apps Tinder and Hinge along with many other assorted properties.

One theme of the acquisition and Hyperconnect’s story is technology. The company built what it describes as “the first mobile version” of WebRTC, a now well-developed standard that is designed to offer resilient peer-to-peer connections between users without relying on a company to serve as a middleman server.

For instance, a video chat between two participants would be transmitted directly between the two of them using WebRTC, without the video being broadcast through Hyperconnect’s servers. That’s designed to improve reliability by removing latency while also reducing the cost of bandwidth for the service to Hyperconnect. WebRTC is now a well-deployed open-source standard, with companies such as Google using it in products like Google Meet.

In addition to its innovative work on WebRTC, Hyperconnect built infrastructure to support two users who speak and text in different languages to interact with each other directly through its apps using real-time translation. In a marketing post on Google Cloud, Hyperconnect is a marquee customer of the cloud service’s speech, real-time translation and messaging APIs.

In the companies’ joint press statement, both sides emphasized R&D and engineering as key wins for the deal. That begs the question then what Match Group is looking to build with its massive new purchase? While the group has largely confined itself to dating, live broadcast and other media verticals may well be in its sights once it acquires the technology from Hyperconnect.

The deal is expected to close in 2021Q2.

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