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Rakuten

By Connor Freitas

Company profile

CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani

Based in: Tokyo, London

Founded: February 7 1997

Best known for: eCommerce

Traded on: Tokyo Stock Exchange

Ticker: 4755

Rakuten is Japan’s biggest eCommerce site – and in terms of sales, a world leader after the likes of 0'>Amazon, 0'>Alibaba and 0'>eBay. The Rakuten company name means “optimism” in Japanese, and it initially started life in 1997 as a virtual shopping mall boasting 13 merchants. Eight years later, the internet giant embarked on an aggressive global expansion by purchasing established brands worldwide – including Buy.com in the US, and Play.com in the UK.

The company now boasts more than 70 businesses that extend beyond eCommerce. Viber was one notable acquisition in Rakuten company history, and the popular voice over IP (VoIP) joined the tech giant’s stable in 2014 – rebranding to Rakuten Viber three years later. Overall, Rakuten says it now boasts 1.3 billion members across 30 countries.

Dubbed the “Amazon of Japan” by some, and “the biggest eCommerce platform you’ve never heard of” by others, Rakuten held its IPO in April 2000. At this point, the company was already wildly successful in Japan and was home to more than 2,300 stores.

8 Rakuten brands

Rakuten Ichiba

The company’s flagship internet shopping mall in Japan

Rakuten Travel

Online travel reservations service

RPay

An ID-based payment service for consumers

Rakuten Delivery

Online food ordering and delivery service

Rakuten Rewards

A membership-only cashback website in the US

Rakuten TV

A video on-demand service across Japan and Europe

Rakuten Kobo

Global provider of eReaders, eBooks and audiobooks

Rakuten Viber

An encrypted, free video calling and instant messaging service

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