Borenius and Lawin lead as Ask.com owner IAC acquires Ask.fm

Baltic firms Borenius and Lawin have taken the lead roles on the acquisition of social media site Ask.fm by questions and answers site Ask.com.

LAWIN’s Riga office advised Ask.com parent IAC on the deal, which completed last week for an undisclosed amount. Borenius acted for Rubylight Technologies, which owned 40 per cent of Ask.fm. Rubylight will retain a minority interest in the company.

Latvian-headquartered Ask.fm was founded four years ago and currently has over 180 million monthly unique users in more than 150 countries around the world, with the majority of its users based in the US.

The social network allows users to ask and answer questions and has attracted controversy in recent months for not responding to alleged cyberbullying by members.

The transaction has seen the departure of founders and shareholders Iļja Terebins, Marks Terebins, Oskars Liepiņš and Valērijs Višņakovs. Ask.com has appointed a team of digital safety experts to revamp its safety procedures, and has worked with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and Maryland attorney general Doug Gansler to create parallel agreements under which Ask.fm will implement a set of best practices focused on increasing the safety of its services.

Riga-based partner Filips Kļaviņš and senior associate Sarmis Spilbergs led the Lawin team acting for IAC. The firm will continue to advise on changes in Ask.fm’s management and ongoing business.

The Borenius team was led by Indriķis Liepa, head of the firm’s Latvian transactions team, with support from Estonian partner Kristel Raidla-Talur.

As well as Ask.com, IAC owns a number of popular digital brands including Investopedia, Tinder and Vimeo.