|Traded as||TYO: 4755|
|Founded||February 7, 1997|
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||$5.3 billion (2013)|
|$400 million (2013)|
Number of employees
|11,872 (March 2015)|
Rakuten, Inc. (楽天株式会社 Rakuten Kabushiki-gaisha?) is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo, Japan. Its B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales.
Hiroshi Mikitani founded the company in February 1997 as MDM, Inc., and is still its chief executive. Rakuten Shopping Mall (楽天市場 Rakuten Ichiba?) started operations in May 1997. In June 1999, the company changed its name to Rakuten, Inc. The Japanese word rakuten means optimism.
In 2005, Rakuten started expanding outside Japan, mainly through acquisitions and joint ventures. Its acquisitions include Buy.com (now Rakuten.com Shopping in the US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland), Play.com (UK), Wuaki.tv (Spain), and Kobo Inc. (Canada). The company has investments in Pinterest, Ozon.ru, AHA Life, and Daily Grommet.
Lines of business
The Rakuten Group consists in total of around forty businesses & services such as -
- Online retail: Operation in a number of countries outside Japan;
- Banking, Credit and Payments: Offering personal consumer credit services including card loans, mortgages, and other banking services;
- Portal and Media: Managing portal sites acting as gateways to the internet, and performing other activities;
- Travel: Operating hotel booking and other travel-related websites and providing other services;
- Securities: Providing services such as online securities brokerage;
- Professional Sports: Managing a professional baseball team, planning and selling related merchandise and performing other activities;
- Entertainment: Online video club.
The group's 2010 annual report shows that its online shopping business, Rakuten Ichiba, was Japan's largest online shopping mall, offering customers more than 95 million products from about 40,000 merchants. It also had 9 million credit card customers and more than 75 million users in Japan. As part of the group's globalization initiative, Rakuten Ichiba started offering international shipping.
In October 2005, Rakuten bought a 15% stake in Tokyo Broadcasting System, raising its stake in the broadcaster to 19%. Rakuten later withdrew its bid and sold its shareholding back to Tokyo Broadcasting.
To increase its global competitiveness, Rakuten decided to adopt English as the company’s official language from mid-2012. That year, Rakuten also bought French online retailer Priceminister for €200 million and US-based Buy.com for US$250 million. The group had been a significant shareholder in Ctrip, a Chinese travel site until it sold its stake in the company in August 2007 and, in 2010, it announced a joint venture with Baidu in China (Lekutian).
After launching Indonesia's Rakuten Belanja Online, a joint venture in June the group continued its global growth the same month, snapping up Brazilian e-commerce firm Ikeda — since, renamed Rakuten Brazil. In July, it bought German e-commerce start-up Tradoria and rebranded it Rakuten Deutschland, and in September UK online retailer and e-commerce marketplace Play.com for £25 million (almost $41 million). After a 2010 UK government decision to impose Value Added Tax on UK-based companies' sales from the Channel Islands - until then exempt from the tax on shipments of goods worth less than £18 (about $28) - Rakuten closed one of three Play.com warehouses on the island of Jersey. In September, Rakuten took a minority equity stake in Russian online retailer Ozon.ru,dubbed 'Russia's Amazon', which had reported 2010 sales worth US$137 million. A four-company-strong consortium, led by the Japanese group, invested US$100 million. Rakuten's stake was not revealed. Rakuten announced an agreement to buy Canadian e-book reader company Kobo in November, with the deal finalized in January 2012.
On 17 May, Rakuten announced that it was leading consortium investing $100 million in the Pinterest picture sharing social network — its partners were existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, and a number of investment 'angels'. That investment marked the start of a drive to expand Pinterest's presence in Japan and Rakuten’s 17 other global markets. “While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining," said Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten chief executive.
On 13 June, Rakuten bought Wuaki.tv, a Spanish (Barcelona, Catalonia) video on demand (VOD) service/company that is one of the largest in Europe and the market leader in Spain, where it has over 600,000 registered users. That opened new opportunities, directly challenging Amazon, Netflix and others for domination of the VOD market — at first, in Europe and, later, elsewhere. In November, Rakuten bought French online retail delivery company Alpha Direct Services. "Speed and quality of delivery is at the heart of any solid e-commerce proposition," said the Japanese group's Hiroshi Mikitani.
By late 2012, Rakuten had also moved into online retail in Austria, Canada, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand and into the online travel markets in France — with Voyager Moins Cher.com — and China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan — with its Tokyo-based international Rakuten Travel platform. In North America, Rakuten Golf made booking tee time online possible.
In May 2013, Rakuten acquired a majority share in “citizen commerce” site, Daily Grommet, since rebranded as The Grommet. In June 2013, Rakuten announced its acquisition of U.S.-based logistics and services company Webgistix. specializing in fulfillment technology for e-commerce retailers. The acquisition is Rakuten’s second logistics investment outside of Japan and enables prompt fulfillment in the U.S.
In September 2013, Rakuten acquired Singapore-based Viki.
The initiative Choice in eCommerce was founded on May 8, 2013 by several online retailers in Berlin, Germany. The cause was, in the view of the initiative, sales bans and online restrictions by individual manufacturers. The dealers felt cut off from their main sales channel and thus deprived them the opportunity to use online platforms like Amazon, eBay or Rakuten in a competitive market for the benefit of their customers.
In late 2013, Rakuten Ichiba Japan launched a new scheme that allows US-based e-tailers to sell on Rakuten's Japanese E-commerce marketplace without a local address, bank account, or an entity based in Japan. In an effort to globalize the marketplace, Rakuten Ichiba is expected to welcome more international sellers in fiscal year 2014.
In August 2014, Rakuten announced its purchase of Slice, an e-commerce app based in the United States, for an undisclosed sum 
In September 2014, it was revealed that Rakuten would acquire US rebate site operator Ebates Inc. for around $1 billion.
In March 2015, Rakuten has announced that it will soon accept Bitcoin across its global marketplaces. The company is putting its investment in Bitnet — a startup that raised $14.5 million last October — to work with this development. Bitnet, which was founded by ex-Visa execs and is rivaled by Coinbase and BitPay, will initially be integrated into Rakuten’s U.S. marketplace to allow customers to pay in BTC.
Next up, the new payment option will roll out in Germany and Austria, with other international markets to follow. Interestingly, there’s no specific mention of when Bitnet will be integrated into Rakuten Japan, which is the most prominent of its 12 country-specific services.
(source Rakuten Inc.)
- Alpha Direct Services
- Dot Commodity, Inc.
- Ebates Inc.
- Fusion Communications Corp.
- Keiba Mall, Inc.
- Kenko.com. Inc.
- Kobo Inc.
- LinkShare Japan K.K.
- Net's Partners, Inc.
- O-net, Inc.
- Priceminister S.A.S
- Rakuten Auction Inc.
- Rakuten Austria GmbH
- Rakuten Baseball, Inc.
- Rakuten Bank, Ltd.
- Rakuten Brasil Internet Service Ltda.
- Rakuten Card Co., Ltd
- Rakuten Deutschland GmbH
- Rakuten Edy, Inc.
- Rakuten EMOBILE, Inc.
- Rakuten Enterprise Inc.
- Rakuten Insurance Planning Co., Ltd.
- Rakuten Investment Management, Inc.
- Rakuten Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
- Rakuten Linkshare (formerly LinkShare Corporation)
- Rakuten Logistics, Inc.
- Rakuten Loyalty (formerly FreeCause)
- Rakuten Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
- Rakuten MediaForge, Inc.
- Rakuten Research, Inc.
- Rakuten Securities, Inc.
- Rakuten Shashinkan, Inc.
- Rakuten.com Shopping (formerly Buy.com)
- Rakuten ShowTime, Inc. (Japan)
- Rakuten Spain, SL
- Rakuten Travel, Inc.
- Shareee, Inc.
- Signature Japan Co., Ltd.
- Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba, Inc.
- TARAD Dot Com Co., Ltd.
- TicketStar Inc.
Credit card fraud
In 2013, hundreds of Rakuten customers reported fraudulent credit card charges after making purchases from the site. New Jersey police confirmed at least eight victims who were defrauded of $10,000 and had their social security numbers exposed and used to open accounts at online suppliers.
- Vissel Kobe
- Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
- Japan Open Tennis Championships
- Rakuten Institute of Technology
- Yukihiro Matsumoto
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- "Rakuten, Leading Japanese E-Commerce Portal, to Acquire LinkShare, Leading U.S. Performance-Based E-Commerce Company", PR Newswire, September 5, 2005
- Hyuga, Takahiko; Sekioka, Tomomi, "Rakuten to Acquire LinkShare for $425 Million", Bloomberg News, September 5, 2005
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- Published Wednesday, Sep 21 2011, 12:43 BST (2011-09-21). "Play.com bought by Japanese firm Rakuten for £25m — Media News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Ozon.ru wins biggest Russian e-commerce investment, Reuters news agency, 8 September 2011.Retrieved: 27 December 2012.
- "японская школа торговли". Expert Magazine, Russia.
- Trout, Christopher, "Rakuten signs agreement to purchase Kobo", Engadget, Nov 8th 2011
- Martin, Rick, "Japanese Online Retail Giant Rakuten Set to Acquire eBook Service Kobo", Penn-Olson reports, November 9, 2011
- "Indigo Announces Completion of Kobo Sale", Bloomberg, Jan 11th 2012
- "Exclusive: Japan’s Rakuten Wins the Heart of Pinterest in $100M Funding Race With $1.5B Valuation", All things digital, 17 May 2012
- "Rakuten adquiere Wuaki.tv [Spanish]", Wuaki.tv Blog, 17 June 17, 2012.Retrieved 27 December 2012
- Rakuten Acquires Alpha Direct Services, Rakuten corporate blog, 7 November 2012.Retrieved 27 December 2012
- "Kobo Acquires Aquafadas to bring more Comics and Kids Books into Digital Form". goodereader.com. Retrieved 2015-06-01.
- All Rakuten Services Rakuten corporate website, Undated.Retrieved: 27 December 2012.
- Japan's Rakuten Ups Its Stake in the Rebranded Grommet - Kara Swisher - Commerce. AllThingsD (2013-05-14). Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
- Online Marketplaces - Don’t call me ‘daily’: The Grommet drops the chronological element in its rebranding. Internet Retailer. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
- Rakuten Acquires U.S.-based Logistics Company Webgistix | | Fulfilling eCommerce. Webgistix.com (2013-06-05). Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
- "Rakuten extends its focus on entertainment after buying Singapore-based video service Viki". The Next Web. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- Petition for Choice in Ecommerce
- Choice in eCommerce
- BILD, Online-Händler kämpfen gegen Hersteller-Boykott, 16.07.2013
- eCommerce Magazin 7-2013, Online-Handel gründet Initiative gegen Verkauftsverbot, 17.07.2013
- Online-Händler stemmen sich gegen Verkaufsverbote
- "Japanese Internet Giant Rakuten Acquires Viber For $900M". TechCrunch. February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "Rakuten Marketing Acquires DC Storm for Omni-channel Attribution, Measurement and Tag Management". Reuters. May 29, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/08/08/japans-rakuten-buys-startup-as-it-mulls-u-s-entry/ Wall Street Journal 11 November 2014
- Rakuten says to buy U.S. rebate site operator Ebates for $1 billion. Reuters, 9 September 2014
- "Rakuten To Put Its Bitnet Investment To Work And Accept Bitcoin Worldwide". TechCrunch. March 17, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- About: Rakuten Group, Rakuten, Inc.
- FreeCause website
- ShowTime (Japan)
- Here’s Everything We Know About The Rakuten/Buy.com Credit Card Breaches
- Bogota police warn website users of suspicious charges
- Global Rakuten (English)