It’s done. AOL has officially sold instant messaging service ICQ to Russian investor DST for $187.5 million. In a release, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said “As AOL continues its turnaround effort, we’re fortunate to find a great home for ICQ with DST.”
We originally reported that DST was sniffing around ICQ back in December. The acquisition makes sense for DST considering that the instant messaging service has a significant Russian user base. ICQ, which AOL acquired in 1998 for $400 million, draws around 32 million monthly unique visits. But over 25 percent of those visits are from Russia, where it holds the no. 1 spot for instant messaging.
Rumors of ICQ’s possible sale were first reported last November. We’d heard speculation that Naspers was interested last year but dropped out of the bidding process. Back in December, we also heard Google and Skype were interesting in buying up ICQ. The final price falls below AOL’s rumored asking price of around $200 to $250 million.
DST has invested heavily in Facebook, Zynga and most recently Groupon. The deep-pocketed investor has also funded Mail.ru and Astrum Online Entertainment.