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About Us

Our History

Since our foundation in 1997, Rakuten Group has engaged in various businesses and services. With the mission of "empowering people and society" through the Internet, our goal is to become the No.1 Internet services company in the world. Here are some key milestones in the history of Rakuten Group so far.

1997-1999: Foundation of Rakuten and Launch of Internet shopping mall "Rakuten Ichiba"

Top page of "Rakuten Ichiba" in the beginning Top page of "Rakuten Ichiba" at the time of foundation
In an era where everyone seemed to be telling us that people will never buy things on the Internet, "Rakuten Ichiba" launched with only 6 employees and 13 merchants.

1997

  • Feb
    MDM, Inc. (currently Rakuten, Inc.) is founded
  • May
    "Rakuten Ichiba," the Internet shopping mall, begins service

1998

  • Jul
    "Rakuten Super Auction," the predecessor service of "Rakuten Auction," is launched

1999

  • Jun
    MDM, Inc. renamed as Rakuten, Inc.

2000: IPO and Expansion of Rakuten Group

JASDAQ IPO JASDAQ IPO
Rakuten enhances its brand awareness widely while accelerating M&A activities through an IPO on the OTC market, respresenting a big step forward for moving into new businesses and services that will shape the "Rakuten Ecosystem."

2000

  • Jan
    "Rakuten University" is established to deliver the know-how of managing an Internet shop for merchants of Rakuten Ichiba
  • Apr
    Rakuten goes public through an IPO on the OTC market (currently JASDAQ market)
  • Dec
    Rakuten acquires Infoseek Japan K.K., a popular portal site and search engine

2001: Future Vision to Reach "1 Trillion Yen of Gross Merchandise Sales" as Rakuten Group

Rakuten's gross annual billing status against  targeting 1 trilion yen Rakuten's gross merchandise sales status against targeting 1 trilion yen
In 2001, Rakuten announces a target of 1 trillion yen for gross merchandise sales for Rakuten Ichiba, at the time when it had only 36 billion yen gross merchandise sales (Rakuten Ichiba surpased gross merchandise sales of 1 trillion yen in 2011).

2001

  • Mar
    "Rakuten Travel," an online hotel reservation service, is launched
  • Apr
    "Rakuten Books," an online book shopping service, is launched

2002: Business Model Innovation of Rakuten Ichiba

Launch of "Rakuten Super Points" service Launch of "Rakuten Super Points" service
  • To achieve a further win-win relationship with merchants, Rakuten Ichiba launches "Pay-as-you-go programme" as well as "Rakuten Super Points" service.
  • Rakuten Ichiba expands to over 6,000 registered merchants in just 5 years after the service launch.

2002

  • Apr
    New merchant fee contract system based on "Pay-as-you-go programme" is introduced to Rakuten Ichiba
  • Nov
    "Rakuten Super Point" Program is introduced as a new membership loyalty program, which enables users to earn points when they purchase products at Rakuten Ichiba (At present, users can earn and use points at Rakuten Group's various services)

2003: Enhancement of Group Synergy

Rakuten's net profit growth after M&A Rakuten's net profit growth after M&A
Rakuten Group dramatically expands scope and scale of operations by adding new core businesses.

2003

  • Sep
    Infoseek Japan K.K. merged into Rakuten
    Rakuten fully acquires MyTrip.net to spearhead its online travel business
  • Oct
    "Rakuten Point Club" is introduced, which gives a special benefits service to users according to the accumulated "Rakuten Super Points"
  • Nov
    Rakuten acquires DLJdirect SFG Securities (currently Rakuten Securities, Inc.)

2004: Entry into Japanese Professional Baseball

Foundation of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Foundation of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Rakuten enters the arena of professional sports with the formation of the "Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles," which was the first new professional Japanese baseball franchise awarded in 50 years, instantly spreading the "Rakuten" brand nationwide.

2004

  • Apr
    Users are able to purchase products by using "Rakuten Super Points"
  • May
    Rakuten fully acquires Minnano Shushoku Inc., an online community for job seekers
  • Sep
    Rakuten fully acquires Aozora Card Co., Ltd. (currently Rakuten Card Co., Ltd.)
  • Oct
    Rakuten Baseball, Inc. was founded to manage professional sports businesses
  • Nov
    Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) approves new entry of "Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles"

2005: Strengthening Financial Businesses while Making Inaugural Push Outside of Japan

Launch of "Rakuten Card" service
  • Synergy of credit card and e-commerce services generates substantial profits for Rakuten Group.
  • Rakuten expands overseas for the first time by acquiring U.S.-based LinkShare Corporation (currently RAKUTEN MARKETING LLC).

2005

  • Jun
    Rakuten commences credit card payment service with "Rakuten Card" by acquiring Kokunai Shinpan Co., Ltd. (currently KC Card Co., Ltd.; divested in 2011)
  • Sep
    Rakuten enters the U.S. affiliate marketing business by acquiring LinkShare Corporation (currently RAKUTEN MARKETING LLC)
  • Dec
    Rakuten Auction, Inc. founded as a joint venture with NTT DOCOMO, INC.

2006: Vision of Rakuten Ecosystem

Concept of Rakuten Ecosystem Concept of Rakuten Ecosystem
Rakuten announces its vision for a "Rakuten Ecosystem," which connects online and offline services across the Rakuten Group.

2006

  • Jul
    Rakuten and All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) establish Rakuten ANA Travel Online Co., Ltd.
  • Nov
    Rakuten introduces "Growth Management Program" to manage profitability and growth potential of each business unit, reorganizing its management structure into 38 business units

2007: Further Investment in Human Resources

All Rakuten employees gather at morning information sharing meeting "Asakai" once a week. All Rakuten employees gather at morning information sharing meeting "Asakai" once a week
Growth of employees is essential for Rakuten's growth. Rakuten deepens commitment to investing in significant human resources over subsequent 10 years.

2007

  • Aug
    Rakuten moves corporate headquarters to the Shinagawa Seaside, Rakuten Tower (Tokyo)
    Rakuten acquires Fusion Communications Corp. to commence IP telephony business

2008: First E-Commerce Expansion Overseas

Top page of "Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba" Top page of "Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba"
  • "Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba" launched as first e-commerce business outside Japan.
  • In Japan, Rakuten Ichiba intensifies focus on improving customer service.

2008

  • May
    Rakuten launches a Taiwan-based Internet shopping mall business "Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba," by establishing a joint venture with President Chain Store Corp, a leading retail company in Taiwan
  • Jun
    The Rakuten Group expands to around 40 different businesses and services, while reorganizing its business units into 11 business groups and enhancing investment efficiency by clarifying the growth and incubation businesses.
  • Sep
    Rakuten acquires O-net, Inc., a bridal information and service provider

2009: Enforcing Rakuten Ecosystem

Expansion of Financial Services Expansion of Financial Services
Rakuten further enforces "Rakuten Ecosystem" by expanding its financial services, such as banking and e-money.

2009

  • Feb
    Rakuten acquires eBank Corporation (now Rakuten Bank, Ltd.)
  • Mar
    Pay-per-view video service provider SHOWTIME, Inc. is made a wholly-owned subsidiary through additional stock purchase
  • Sep
    Rakuten acquires TARAD Dot Com Co., Ltd., which operates Internet shopping mall "TARAD.com" in Thailand
  • Nov
    Rakuten forms capital alliance with Bit Wallet, Inc. (now Rakuten Edy, Inc.), which operates e-money business

2010: To be a Genuine Global Company

Leaders from overseas subsidiaries and alliance partners at global business strategy conference. Leaders from overseas subsidiaries and alliance partners at global business strategy conference
Rakuten accelerates a global business, shifting to a new stage to be a global Internet services company starting from a venture in Japan.

2010

  • Jan
    Rakuten acquires bitWallet, Inc. (now Rakuten Edy, Inc.)
  • May
    Rakuten acquires LinkShare Japan K.K. by merging it with TRAFFIC GATE, LTD.
    Rakuten initiates "Englishnization" project to convert official corporate language into English
  • Jun
    Rakuten establishes "Rakuten Institute of Technology" in New York, a R&D institute focused on advanced Internet technologies (first Rakuten Institute of Technology was established in Tokyo in Dec. 2005)
  • Jul
    Rakuten fully acquires Buy.com, Inc. (now RAKUTEN COMMERCE LLC), which operates Buy.com (now Rakuten.com) , an e-commerce site in the U.S.
    Rakuten fully acquires PRICEMINISTER S.A. (now PRICEMINISTER S.A.S.), which operates PriceMinister, an e-commerce site in France

2011: Rakuten Ichiba Exceeds 1 Trillion Yen in Gross Transaction Volume

"Rakuten Ichiba" gross transaction volume
  • After 14 years, Rakuten Ichiba achieves over 1 trillion yen in gross transaction volume and 38,000 online shops.
  • Rakuten intensifies globalization push to evangelize the Rakuten Ichiba B2B2C e-commerce business model and "Rakuten Ecosystem" worldwide.

2011

  • Jan
    Rakuten establishes "San Francisco Agile Development Center" in U.S. as a development center for Rakuten Group's various services worldwide
  • Jun
    Rakuten's joint venture with Indonesia's largest media group, PT Global Mediacom Tbk.(now PT.RAKUTEN BELANJA ONLINE), launches Indonesia-based Internet shopping mall, "Rakuten Belanja Online"
    Rakuten acquires Ikeda Internet Software LTDA. (now RAKUTEN BRASIL INTERNET SERVICE LTDA.), an e-commerce provider in Brazil
  • Jul
    Rakuten acquires Tradoria GmbH. (now Rakuten Deutschland GmbH), which operates Tradoria (now Rakuten.de), an e-commerce site in Germany
  • Sep
    Rakuten acquires minority stake in OZON.ru., a leading Internet service company in Russia
  • Oct
    Rakuten fully acquires Play Holdings Limited (now Rakuten UK Shopping S.a.r.l), which operates Play.com, an e-commerce site in UK
  • Dec
    Rakuten Ichiba achieves 1 trillion yen in gross transaction volume

2012: Entering eBook Business and Official Start of "Englishnization"

Entered in e-book market Entered in e-book market
  • Rakuten enters into eBook business on a full scale by acquring Kobo Inc. (currently Rakuten Kobo Inc.) in Canada, launching "kobo" eBook service in Japan.
  • "Englishnization" initiatives accelerates the smooth integration of group companies worldwide.
  • Rakuten's marketplace model spreads to Rakuten e-commerce businesses around the world, while Rakuten Ichiba passes 100,000,000 product SKUs.

2012

  • Jan
    Rakuten fully acquires Canadian eBook Company Kobo, Inc.(currently Rakuten Kobo Inc.), a world leader in eReading.
  • Apr
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall "Rakuten.com.br Shopping" in Brazil, through its group company RAKUTEN BRASIL INTERNET SERVICE LTDA.
  • May
    Rakuten forms a business and capital alliance with Stylife Corporation, which operates e-commerce business in fashion/apparel sector
    Rakuten acquires Kenko.com. Inc., which operates a health care goods online shopping site
    Rakuten leads $100M funding round in U.S.-based social network Pinterest, Inc.
  • Jun
    Rakuten fully acquires Wuaki.TV, S.L.(now Wuaki.TV, S.L.U.), an emerging European provider of video streaming service, based in Spain
  • Jul
    Rakuten designates English as official corporate language after successful completion of two-year transition
    Rakuten launches "kobo" eBook service in Japan
  • Sep
    Rakuten enters into a coupon service sector by acquiring Shareee, Inc., which operates a coupon site "Shareee"
    Rakuten and eAccess Ltd. agree to joint investment for the establishment of Rakuten EMOBILE, Inc. to begin a mobile data communication service
    Rakuten acquires AIRIO Life Insurance Co., Ltd.(now Rakuten Life Insurance Co., Ltd.)
  • Nov
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall "Rakuten.com.my" in Malaysia, through its group company Rakuten Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
    Rakuten fully acquires Alpha Direct Services S.A.S, a logistics company based in France

2013: Rakuten Eagles achieves first ever Japan championship. Listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange

Eagles,the Japan Series first-time victory Scene of Rakuten Eagles' first ever Japan Championship The Tokyo Stock Exchange listing ceremony Ceremony of Rakuten's stock market listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's First Section
  • Rakuten Eagles achieves first ever Japan championship.
  • Rakuten changes the listing of its shares from the JASDAQ (Standard) market to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, aiming to further expand business operations, and improve corporate value.

2013

  • Apr
    Rakuten Group rebrands AIRIO Life Insurance as Rakuten Life Insurance Co., Ltd.
  • Jun
    Rakuten fully acquires Webgistix Corp., (now Rakuten Super Logistics, Inc.), a logistics company based in the U.S.
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall "Rakuten.at" in Austria, through its group company Rakuten Austria GmbH
  • Sep
    Rakuten fully acquires Viki, Inc., an emerging global provider of video streaming service, based in the U.S.
  • Oct
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall "Rakuten.es" in Spain, through its group company Rakuten Spain, S.L.U.
  • Nov
    Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles wins the Japan Series Championship for the first time in their history since joining the Japanese professional baseball
  • Dec
    Rakuten changes the listing of its shares from the JASDAQ (Standard) market to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange

2014: Enforcing Telecommunication and O2O Services

  • With acquisition of "Viber" and a launch of the low cost calling service "Rakuten Mobile", Rakuten enforces telecommunication and communication services.
  • Rakuten launches various new services including O2O services.
  • Adding the next geration shopping mall "Ebates", which is supported by the U.S. top 3,000 shopping sites, Rakuten expands its global gross transaction volume.

2014

  • Jan
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall "Rakuten.com.sg" in Singapore, through its group company Rakuten Asia Pte. Ltd.
  • Feb
    Rakuten open's the world's third Rakuten Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) in Paris, which is the first of its kind in Europe
  • Mar
    Rakuten fully acquires VIBER MEDIA LTD., which operates a mobile messaging and VoIP service "Viber" worldwide
  • May
    Rakuten opens a permanent "Rakuten CAFE" in Shibuya, which allows patrons to experience a variety of Rakuten services
  • Jun
    Rakuten opens its world's fourth Development and Operations Center in India
    Rakuten launches ROOM, a curation service in which users can collect and share products from "Rakuten Ichiba" on their own exclusive page
  • Aug
    Rakuten fully acquires Slice Technologies, Inc., provider of app service "Slice", aggregating history of purchases by analyzing emails delivered when purchasing goods at several e-commerce sites
  • Oct
    Rakuten launches the R-Point Card service, allowing members to use their Rakuten Super Points in actual stores throughout Japan
    Rakuten fully acquires Ebates Inc., a provider of the leading membership-based online cash-back site "Ebates" in the U.S.
    Rakuten Group fully enters mobile phone service with the launch of the low cost calling service "Rakuten Mobile"
  • Nov
    Rakuten launches "Rakuma", a new flea market app that enables transactions between individuals via smartphone

2015: Enforcing Sports and Culture Businesses. Expanding Overseas Financial Services

  • Rakuten enforces sports and culture businesses by adding Vissel Kobe to the Rakuten Group.
  • Rakuten expands overseas financial services, starting to issue "Taiwan Rakuten Card".

2015

  • Jan
    Rakuten fully acquires Vissel Kobe, entering into Japan Professional Football League (J-League)
    Rakuten Card Co., Ltd. issues its own credit card "Taiwan Rakuten Card" for the first time outside Japan
  • Mar
    Rakuten invests in Lyft, Inc., a ride-sharing service provider based in the U.S.
  • Apr
    Rakuten fully acquires OverDrive Holdings, Inc., a leading eBook content provider mainly for libraries
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