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Rakuten

E-commerce - Advanced




R akuten, Inc. is a popular Japanese e-commerce company with its headquarters in Setagaya, Tokyo. The company was founded in 1997 by Hiroshi Mikitani under the name MDM, Inc., but two years later changed its name to Rakuten. The new name, which translates to "optimism," was adopted to reflect the company's attitude towards growth and development at a time when e-commerce was not considered a solid investment. Despite considerable skepticism, the company grew incredibly quickly, and years later, boasts over 1.2 billion users in 30 countries and regions around the world.

According to Mikitani, his idea for an online shopping mall was born when he ordered cup noodles from a local store, and they were delivered to his doorstep. Not long after, Rakuten Ichiba was created. At the time, the company had only six employees and 13 merchants offering goods on the website, but it didn't take much for the company to take off and within three years the number of merchants jumped to over 2300!

Although the original idea for Rakuten was a simple online store, the company soon developed into much more than that. By 2004 Rakuten acquired an internet portal and search engine known as Infoseek Japan K.K. Then they expanded into the online travel business by acquiring MyTrip, launched their own credit card, and even founded Rakuten Baseball, Inc. to manage their baseball team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Rakuten also established an Institute of Technology in Tokyo. The following year the company expanded into the U.S. by acquiring the LinkShare Corporation.

In the years that followed Rakuten focused on Internet Finance and acquired eBank Corp. and BitWallet, and by 2011 they finally reached their goal of 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value. The next four years saw the company's expansion into the eBook business and the mobile phone industry with the addition of Rakuten Kobo, OverDrive, Rakuten Mobile and Viber.

In recent years, Rakuten hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. In addition to its successful baseball team, the company entered the Japanese Professional Football League by acquiring the Vissel Kobe club in 2015. The following year a research and development organization Rakuten Blockchain Lab was opened, the company continued its educational services with ReDucate and Rakuten Super English, and in 2017 they signed a deal making them the Main Global Partner of FC Barcelona.

Over the years Rakuten's development has been unpredictable. Having grown from a pure e-commerce company to managing finance, security, sports, telecommunications, and many other services Rakuten has attracted over a billion users and 15,000 employees who have together made it into one of the most successful companies in Eastern Asia and an e-commerce distributor that is often deservedly referred to as Japan's Amazon.

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