Rakuten launches drone delivery service on golf courses

JapanEnterprise Innovation — Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. recently announced the launch of Sora Raku, a drone delivery service for consumers on golf courses. The service will be available starting Monday (9 May). The drones will be used to deliver golf equipment, snacks, beverages and other items to players at pickup points on the golf course.


Rakuten launches mobile e-commerce app in Taiwan

TaiwanTelecom Asia — Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has launched  consumer-to-consumer mobile e-commerce app Rakuma in Taiwan. The app, first launched in late 2014 in Japan, enables the sale of goods between individual consumers via smart devices. It allows quick product listing and direct communication among users.


Rakuten releases mobile e-commerce app in Taiwan

JapanEnterprise Innovation — Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. has launched Rakuma, an application for Consumer-to-Consumer mobile e-commerce, in Taiwan. The app, first launched in late 2014 in Japan, enables the sale of goods between individual consumers via smart devices. It allows quick product listing and direct communication among users.


Korea’s Gmarket, Japan’s Rakuten partner to boost cross-border trading

KoreaEnterprise Innovation — Korea’s  e-commerce shopping mall Gmarket  and Japan’s Internet shopping mall retailer Rakuten have partnered to boost cross-border trading in both countries. Henry Chun, Head of Gmarket, and Masato Takahashi, Managing Executive Officer, Rakuten, recently signed the agreement in Tokyo. Under the agreement, Gmarket will launch an online flagship store on Rakuten Ichiba featuring mini-shops that will offer Korea’s diverse fashion and beauty products to Rakuten’s membership base of over 100 million users.


Rakuten to close Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia marketplaces, lay off about 150 staff

JapanTech in Asia — Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten will be shutting down its Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia marketplaces, it said in a press release. Further, the company confirmed with Tech in Asia that these marketplaces will shut down by March 2016. About 150 staff are about to be laid off. The company will assist with finding employment and giving severance packages in accordance with local laws, it said.


Rakuten Ventures launches $85m fund aimed at Japanese startups

JapanTech in Asia — Rakuten Ventures, the venture capital and investment arm of Japan’s Rakuten group, today announced the launch of the Rakuten Ventures Japan Fund, worth JPY 10 billion (US$85 million). The capital commitment has been approved by Rakuten Ventures parent company, Rakuten Inc.


Rakuten Acquires Fits.me

JapanBusiness Wire — Rakuten, Inc., a global leader in e-commerce, today announced that it has acquired a 100% stake in fit preference specialist Fits.me. Rakuten expects the innovative tech startup to further strengthen its e-commerce offerings and marketing solutions by providing a greater personalization of the retail experience for shoppers while driving operational insights and efficiencies for retailers. Fits.me will operate as a stand-alone business within Rakuten, Inc. and continue to support and grow current and future clients.


Japanese E-commerce Firm Makes Chinese Rebate Investment

JapanJapan-based Rakuten has taken a minority stake in Fanli.com, one of China’s online rebate and rebate-based flash sale companies. The C-series round values the Chinese online shopping company at approximately USD1 billion. As part of this investment, Kevin H. Johnson, CEO of Ebates, a Rakuten Group company, will join Fanli’s board of directors. Rakuten’s investment gives it less than a 10% stake.


Rakuten Invests in Leading Chinese Online Rebates Site Fanli

JapanRakuten, Inc. today announced that it has taken a less than 10% stake in Fanli, China’s largest online rebate and rebate based flash sale company. The C-series round values the Chinese online shopping company at approximately US$1 Billion. As part of this investment, Kevin H. Johnson, CEO of Ebates, a Rakuten Group company, will join Fanli’s board of directors. “We are very excited to bring Rakuten on as an investor and welcome Kevin Johnson as a member of our board of directors,” commented Gary Ge, CEO of Fanli.


Rakuten buys ebook marketplace OverDrive for $410M to boost struggling Kobo

JapanEcommerce titan Rakuten is doubling down on its struggling Kobo ereaders by acquiring an ebook marketplace called OverDrive. The deal, announced this afternoon, sees Rakuten buying out US-based OverDrive for US$410 million. OverDrive has over two million ebooks, audiobooks, and videos on its site. The company started out offline in 1986 selling print books and CD-ROMs, and then in 2000 it moved online to form an ebook and audiobook repository.


Bitcoin breakthrough: Rakuten to accept the currency on global marketplaces

JapanAfter hinting several times over the past year or so that it wants to accept Bitcoin on its marketplaces, Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten announced today that it will start to accept the cryptocurrency on its global marketplaces. The rollout will begin in America, and then spread to Rakuten Germany and Rakuten Austria. Bitnet, an enterprise-focused developer that creates bitcoin platforms, is Rakuten’s partner in the rollout.


Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten leads $530M round in Lyft, takes 11% stake

JapanJapanese ecommerce conglomerate Rakuten has led a US$530 million investment round for Lyft, the San Francisco based ridesharing startup. TechCrunch  first broke the news of the round, and Lyft quickly confirmed it on its blog. Rakuten also told Tech in Asia that it is taking an 11 percent stake in the firm for US$300 million, and provided the following canned statement from CEO Hiroshi Mikitani:


Viber hits 236M monthly active users, still searching for monetization

JapanThe latest Viber update comes courtesy of Rakuten’s most recent quarterly earning report. The messaging service gained more new monthly active users (MAU) than Line did since its last report. Viber extended its lead by adding 17 million new MAUs to hit 236 million total MAU, while Line added 11 million new users to hit 181 MAU. despite success in that arguably unimportant vanity metric, the financials released by Rakuten show Viber is still running a deficit.


Rakuten Reports Consolidated Financial Results (IFRS) for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2014

JapanRakuten, Inc. (TOKYO: 4755) today announced the consolidated financial reports (IFRS) for the Fiscal Year ended December 31, 2014. The Rakuten Group achieved revenue of ¥598,565 million, up 15.4% year-on-year, operating income of ¥106,397 million, up 17.9% year-on-year, and net income attributable to owners of the parent company of ¥70,614 million, up 64.6% year-on-year.


Rakuten to focus on strategic partnerships to empower Malaysian SMEs

JAPANESE electronic commerce and Internet company Rakuten Inc, via its e-commerce platform Rakuten Online Shopping, is seeking out partnerships with both public and private sectors to grow Malaysia’s e-commerce industry. The company believes that by building partnerships with parties that share the same synergies and philosophies, it is able to encourage a wider adoption of e-commerce among small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This, in turn, helps strengthen the e-commerce ecosystem.


Rakuten expands yet again, launches UK marketplace

Here’s more proof that Rakuten is serious about becoming a global ecommerce player alongside the likes of Amazon and Alibaba: the Japanese company today launched Rakuten.co.uk. According to TechCrunch, the new UK marketplace will sell goods from Rakuten and third-party retailers, in addition to offerings from its Kobo ebook store and Wuaki video streaming service.


Rakuten confirms Ebates acquisition, Ebates CEO admits Alibaba threat encouraged his decision

At a press conference in Tokyo today, Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. (TYO:4755 ), confirmed reports that his company will acquire American online coupon firm Ebates . The ticker price comes in at JPY 105 billion (US$1 billion). Founded in 1998, Ebates offers coupons or cash-back incentives to drive online shopping. Stores register on Ebates and post coupon codes or cash-back terms. Shoppers registered at Ebates can then copy the coupon link, click on the product they want to buy, and make the purchase. For cash-back offers, Ebates will send the user a check four times a year or more.


Rakuten confirms attempt to buy US coupon firm Ebates; stock falls 4% over rumored $1B price

Leading Japanese ecommerce firm Rakuten (TYO:4755 ) released a statement  today admitting the company’s involvement in an acquisition bid for American online coupon firm Ebates . This comes after Nikkei  reported on Saturday morning that Rakuten had nearly finalized a deal worth over JPY 100 billion (US$951 million). Ebates offers coupons or cash-back incentives to drive online shopping. Stores register on Ebates and post coupon codes or cash-back terms.


Rakuten Super Logistics accepts bitcoin

Rakuten Super Logistics U.S, a company that provides order fulfillment services for online retailers, has accepted bitcoin after requests from customers. The company has already begun accepting bitcoin payments via BitPay. “We are working to apply this new technology to the benefit of market participants, especially those who can’t now easily access the global e-commerce marketplace,” says Joseph DiSorbo, CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics, referring to the majority of people in emerging markets who are not using credit cards and online payment facilities.


Japan’s Rakuten Bank now allowing money transfers via Facebook

A new feature from Rakuten Bank, unsurprisingly called “Transfer by Facebook,” is being touted by the bank as the first of its kind in the country and is brilliantly simple to use.  Launch the Rakuten Bank app, pick the Facebook friend and then enter in the amount to be transferred. There’s no need to know the other person’s banking details.  It even works if the friend in question has an account at another bank, although it’s not quite so seamless.


Rakuten: Viber has 608 million registered accounts, is the future of our company

Rakuten (TYO:4755), the Japanese ecommerce conglomerate, held an earnings call today that contained some huge Viber news amidst a sea of big profit announcements. In case there were any doubts, the company’s strong position in the Japanese economy was as apparent as ever – about US$1.38 billion in revenue and US$222 million in operating income for the firm’s second quarter of 2014.  Even more impressively, Rakuten was able to show that analysis of its ecommerce data can be used to accurately predict the Japanese government’s own statistical assessments of Japan’s economic health.


Rakuten just launched a $100M fund for startups. Here’s why the company is more than just “Japan’s Amazon”

As Alibaba prepares for its IPO and Tencent aggressively pushes its WeChat messenger all over the world, it’s easy for folks in the west to forget that there’s another Asian internet giant gunning for a broader global presence – Japan’s Rakuten. Founded in 1997, the Tokyo-based firm earned a name for itself domestically with Rakuten Ichiba, a marketplace that sells virtual store space for vendors looking to reach online customers. Rakuten Ichiba’s success helped it gain the reputation as “Japan’s Amazon,” the firm quickly proved to be about more than ecommerce – it successfully branched into the banking, securities, and travel industries. It even created a juggernaut baseball team in northern Japan.


Japanese giant Rakuten enters India, but it’s not yet joining the ecommerce war

Japanese ecommerce titan Rakuten (JSD:4755) has just announced its entry into India. To begin with, the firm has today opened a global unit called the Rakuten India Development and Operations Center (RIDOC) in Bangalore. A statement from the company says the center will focus on “infrastructure operations, processes, and resources.” For now, there’s no Rakuten India estore – instead it is working behind the scenes on developing talent in infrastructure automation, software development, and quality assurance.


Rakuten Ventures’ Saemin Ahn: “No one should tell you what your vision is about.”

On May 20 at Singapore Polytechnic, Tech in Asia hosted its monthly Meetup event by bringing in Saemin Ahn (pictured above) for a fireside chat, which was moderated by our editor, Terence Lee. Ahn is a managing partner at Rakuten Ventures, and given that he owns the entire decision-making process there, he was able to share many interesting insights on the Japanese investment scene


British analytics firm DC Storm acquired by Rakuten

Rakuten Marketing, the digital marketing arm of Japanese conglomerate Rakuten, Inc., announced the acquisition of DC Storm, a British marketing analytics firm. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Founded in 2004, DC Storm has steadily grown over the past nine years and established local headquarters in Frankfurt (2008) and New York City (2013).


Ecommerce giant Rakuten now has its own cafe in Japan, and it looks pretty snazzy

Apple set off a minor trend ten years ago when it launched its first Apple Store, inspiring other big-name tech firms to launch their own hip-looking hangout spots that double as marketing, sales, and support hubs. Now Japan’s Rakuten is jumping on the bandwagon with the launch of Rakuten CAFE, a cozy eatery that doubles as a playground all-things-Rakuten. The space is set to officially open its doors on Friday.


Korean file-sharing app Send Anywhere nabs $1M in funding from Rakuten

ESTmob, the Seoul-based team behind file-sharing app Send Anywhere (which we reviewed about a week ago) revealed today it has completed a US$1 million seed round led by Rakuten Ventures. ESTmob cofounder Suhyuk Kang tells Tech in Asia that it will use the funding to expand its userbase around the globe and ramp up the app’s feature set.


Rakuten gets approval to issue credit cards in ROC

TAIPEI — Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten (樂天) Inc. has gained regulatory approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC, 金管會) to issue credit cards in Taiwan, as part of its efforts to achieve an ambitious growth target this year.  The FSC announced late Tuesday that Rakuten Card Co., a credit card subsidiary of the Japanese online retailer, had been given approval to set up Rakuten Card Taiwan Inc. with capital of NT$300 million (US$9.93 million).


Alibaba’s Alipay payment service says konichiwa to Japan as it inks deal with Rakuten

TAG indexAlipay, China’s popular third-party payment service from tech giant Alibaba, will now be integrated onto Rakuten Global Market, the international e-commerce branch of “Japan’s Amazon.” According to an official statement from Rakuten, 250 shops on Rakuten Global Market will open up transactions with Alipay, though the company intends to increase that number gradually. Currently, 10,000 of Rakuten’s 42,000 domestic vendors sell goods internationally on Rakuten Global Market.


Rakuten wants to see Viber getting a million new users per day

Last month, Rakuten (JSD:4755) acquired Viber messaging app in a $900 million deal as the Japanese ecommerce titan tries to diversify and be more social. Today, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani spoke out for the first time about the app, telling Bloomberg that “Viber is one of the most important projects for us.”