Rakuten’s bold ambition


Rakuten is a household name in Japan. They’re into ecommerce, online travel, auctions, ebooks, banking and securities, as well as baseball as owners of the Rakuten Eagles. Using their scale, they’ve created an ecosystem that rewards members each time they patronise a Rakuten service. It is said that 60% of Japan’s population are members of Rakuten. At present, the internet juggernaut operates in more than eighteen countries, including the US.

Recently, Rakuten has continued to ramp their M&A efforts, acquiring Viber and investing in Pinterest. With a particular love of ecommerce, they’ve also snapped up businesses like France’s Priceminister, Brazil’s Ikeda, Germany’s Tradoria, UK’s Play.com, Canada’s e-book reader Kobo, Singapore’s Carousell, Thailand’s Tarad.com, the US-based product launch platform the Daily Grommet, the online shopping app Slice, Buy.com, Webgistix, and recently Ebates for a whopping $1 billion. The company also holds significant investments in Russia’s Ozon.ru and US-based AHAlife.com. Analysts feel that Rakuten’s acquisition spree underlines the company’s ambition to be the biggest ecommerce player in the world and topple Amazon. If Rakuten is to be a competitive threat to Amazon, it needs to keep acquiring share in the US. Clearly, with eighteen acquisitions to date and huge investments in other ecommerce companies, Rakuten is fast becoming the Japanese force to be reckoned with globally.

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