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Traded as JASDAQ4755
Industry e-commerce and diversified products and holdings
Founded February 7th, 1997
Founder Hiroshi Mikitani
Headquarters Shinagawa Seaside Rakuten Tower
4-12-3 Higashishinagawa
Tokyo 140-0002
Japan, Tokyo, Japan
Area served
Japan and worldwide
Key people
Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman & CEO
Revenue IncreaseUS$4.7 billion (December 2011) [1]
IncreaseUS$886 million (December 2011) [1]
DecreaseUS$14 million (December 2011) [1]
Total assets Decrease US$23.8 billion (December 2011) [1]
Number of employees
5,810 (2009) [2]
7,119 (Consolidated) (As of Dec 31st, 2010) [3]
3,042 (Non-consolidated) (As of Dec 31st, 2010) [3]
Website (Japanese corporate site) (portal for all Rakuten sevices)
Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, at the press conference about the e-G8 forum during the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, France. (26 May 2011)

Rakuten, Inc. (楽天株式会社, Rakuten Kabushiki-gaisha) (JASDAQ4755) is one of the world's largest Internet services companies. Among its numerous online properties, its flagship B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) model e-commerce site Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan [4] and among the world's largest by sales.[5]

Its business is centered in Japan, although it has been expanding rapidly overseas in recent years, primarily through acquisitions and joint ventures.[6] Rakuten's founder, chairman and chief executive officer is Hiroshi Mikitani. The company has its headquarters in the Shinagawa Seaside Rakuten Tower (品川シーサイド楽天タワー, Shinagawa Shīsaido Rakuten Tawā) in Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo.[7][8]

The company was founded in February 1997 as MDM, Inc. Rakuten Shopping Mall (楽天市場, Rakuten Ichiba) started operations in May the same year. In June 1999 MDM, Inc. changed its name to Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten's 2011 revenues were US$ 4.7 billion with operating profits of approximately US$886M, suggesting an 18.8% operating profit margin. The company is publicly-traded (JASDAQ: 4755). As of December 2011, it has a market capitalization of US$13 billion and some 10,000 employees worldwide.

Rakuten ranks amongst the top 10 Internet companies in the world (along with Google, Amazon, eBay, Baidu, Yahoo, etc.).[9]

In early 2012, its Japanese website's ( Alexa ranking was 70th worldwide and 7th in Japan.[10]

Lines of business[edit]

The Rakuten Group is composed of six businesses:

  1. E-Commerce Marketplace, managing Japan's largest online retail marketplace;
  2. Credit and Payments, offering personal consumer credit services including consumer loan card payment and loans
  3. Portal and Media, managing portal sites—which act as the gateway to the internet—and performing other activities;
  4. Travel, operating hotel booking and other travel-related websites and providing other services;
  5. Securities, providing services such as online securities brokerage;
  6. Professional Sports, managing a professional baseball team, planning and selling related merchandise and performing other activities; and
  7. Banking, offering card loan, mortgage and other banking services for individuals.

Rakuten's online shopping business, Rakuten Ichiba, is the largest online shopping mall in Japan, and allows customers to shop more than 90 million products from over 38,000 merchants.[11][12] It has 6 million credit card holders and a membership of over 75 million users in Japan.[12]

As part of its Internationalization efforts, Rakuten Ichiba has started offering international shipping.

Recent developments[edit]

In October 2005, Rakuten bought a 15% stake in Tokyo Broadcasting System thereby raising its ownership to 19%.[13] Rakuten was said to plan a merger with the broadcast company, but eventually withdrew its bid and divested its shareholdings.[14][15]

Rakuten owns a US specialized subsidiary, FreeCause, founded in 2006 and located in Boston, Massachusetts, that develops and enhances loyalty rewards programs for major brands, airlines, hotels, sports teams and non-profits. As of January 2012, it has more than 20,000,000 members, 3,500 partners and merchants, and 300 clients.[16] The USA headquarters for Rakuten is also located in Boston.[17]

Rakuten was a significant shareholder in Ctrip, a Chinese travel site, but in August 2007, the company sold its share in Ctrip. Later in 2005, Rakuten acquired Linkshare (now "Rakuten Linkshare"), a New York City-based company, dealing in sales and marketing performance analysis.[18][19][20][17]

In 2010, in another effort to increase its global competitiveness, Rakuten announced its intention to make English the company’s official language by mid-2012.[21][22] That year, Rakuten also acquired the French e-commerce site Priceminister for €200 million[23] and US-based for US$250 million.[24][25]

The company also announced joint ventures with Baidu in China (Lekutian) [26][9] and with MNC Group in Indonesia (Rakuten Belanja Online).

After launching Rakuten Belanja Online service on June 1, 2011, Rakuten continued its global acquisition trend with the purchase of Brazilian e-commerce firm Ikeda (now Rakuten Brazil) that same month. In July, it acquired e-commerce startup Tradoria in Germany (now Rakuten Deutschland), and in September purchased UK e-commerce pioneer for £25 million.[27]

In September 2011, Rakuten purchased a minority equity stake in Russian online retailer The total infusion of capital was US$100 million divided between four buyers, of which Rakuten was one. Rakuten's stake is unknown.[28]

In November 2011 Rakuten signed an agreement to purchase the ebook company Kobo.[29][30] The deal was finalized in January 2012.[31]

Selected subsidiaries[edit]

( source Rakuten Inc. [32] )

  • Rakuten Auction Inc.
  • Rakuten Travel, Inc.
  • Rakuten Enterprise Inc.
  • Rakuten Bus Services Inc.
  • Signature Japan Co., Ltd.
  • Rakuten Securities, Inc.
  • Rakuten Linkshare (formerly LinkShare Corporation)
  • Rakuten Baseball, Inc.
  • Rakuten Card Co., Ltd
  • Keiba Mall, Inc.
  • Dot Commodity, Inc.
  • Fusion Communications Corp.
  • Rakuten Bank, Ltd.
  • Rakuten Mortgage, Inc.
  • Net's Partners, Inc.
  • ShowTime, Inc. (Japan) [33]
  • Rakuten Research, Inc.
  • Onet, Inc.
  • Rakuten Insurance Planning Co., Ltd.
  • FreeCause (USA) [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Info: Rakuten" - Osaka Securities Exchange
  2. ^ "Profile: Rakuten", Hoover's
  3. ^ a b "About the Rakuten company", Rakuten website
  4. ^ Wee, Willis, "The History of Rakuten, Japan’s Largest E-Commerce Site", Penn-Olson reports, June 13, 2011
  5. ^ "Rakuten predicts major mobile growth",, February 27, 2012. "Rakuten, operator of Japan’s largest online retailer, owner of the UK’s and the world’s third-largest online retailer by sales."
  6. ^ "Profile: Rakuten, Inc.", Bloomberg
  7. ^ "Company Overview." Rakuten. Retrieved on February 3, 2011. "”Rakuten Tower” (Headquarters) Shinagawa Seaside Rakuten Tower, 4-12-3 Higashishinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, 140-0002 (MAP)."
  8. ^ "Rakuten Tower." (Direct map image link) Rakuten. Retrieved on February 3, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "RAKUTEN starts new business in CHINA with BIDU-O", Japan Press, January 27, 2010
  10. ^ "Info:", Alexa ranking
  11. ^ Leesa-nguansuk, Suchit, "Click till you drop: Japan's Rakuten plots e-commerce world domination", Bangkok Post, February 15, 2012
  12. ^ a b Ishida, Michiyo, "Rakuten posts 8% rise in Q1 operating profit", Channel NewsAsia, 12 May 2011
  13. ^ Olson, Parmy, "Rakuten's Mikitani To Take Over Tokyo Broadcasting?", Forbes, October 13, 2005
  14. ^ "Annual Financial Report (Consolidated) for the First Quarter of Fiscal 2011 Rakuten, Inc.", May 12, 2011. "As a result of this verdict, Rakuten sold the shares in Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings, Inc. to that company on May 10 2011 at a price of ¥1,294 per share, which was the amount stipulated in the rulings of the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court."
  15. ^ "Share Price for TBS Buy-back of Rakuten-held Stocks Finally Decided", Rakuten Inc. Press release, April 20, 2011
  16. ^ a b FreeCause website
  17. ^ a b Toto, Serkan, "Japan's Rakuten: Can The Biggest E-Commerce Site You Never Heard Of Become a Threat for Amazon Globally?", TechCrunch, Sunday, July 5th, 2009
  18. ^ "Rakuten, Leading Japanese E-Commerce Portal, to Acquire LinkShare, Leading U.S. Performance-Based E-Commerce Company", PR Newswire, September 5, 2005
  19. ^ Hyuga, Takahiko; Sekioka, Tomomi, "Rakuten to Acquire LinkShare for $425 Million", Bloomberg News, September 5, 2005
  20. ^ "Rakuten LinkShare: Leading Performance Marketing Network Debuts New Logo", Business Wire, Feb 23, 2012
  21. ^ "Rakuten to hold all formal internal meetings in English | The Japan Times Online". 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  22. ^ "Rakuten to make English official language inside company by end of 2012", The Mainichi Daily News, July 1, 2010 (archived 2010)
  23. ^ Wauters, Robin (2010-06-17). "Rakuten to acquire France’s PriceMinister for approximately €200 million". TechCrunch ( Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  24. ^ posted on May 20th, 2010 (2010-05-20). " Gets Acquired By Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten For $250 Million". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  25. ^ "Japan's Rakuten to Acquire", The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2010
  26. ^ Thibault, Marie, "Skyping With a Japanese Billionaire", Forbes, January 28, 2010
  27. ^ Published Wednesday, Sep 21 2011, 12:43 BST (2011-09-21). " bought by Japanese firm Rakuten for £25m - Media News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  28. ^ "японская школа торговли". Expert Magazine, Russia. 
  29. ^ Trout, Christopher, "Rakuten signs agreement to purchase Kobo", Engadget, Nov 8th 2011
  30. ^ Martin, Rick, "Japanese Online Retail Giant Rakuten Set to Acquire eBook Service Kobo", Penn-Olson reports, November 9, 2011
  31. ^ "Indigo Announces Completion of Kobo Sale", Bloomberg, Jan 11th 2012
  32. ^ About: Rakuten Group", Rakuten corporate website
  33. ^ ShowTime (Japan)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]