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February 18, 2014
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten opens
the Rakuten Institute of Technology in Paris

The Internet services giant announces
up its first European R&D centre

PARIS, February 18th 2014 — Rakuten, Inc., one of the world’s leading Internet service companies and owner of PriceMinister, today announced the opening of the Rakuten Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) in Paris – the first of its kind in Europe. The R.I.T. is a dedicated Research and Development (R&D) organisation within Rakuten, combining creativity and innovation with emerging technologies to fuel the growth of e-commerce around the world.   

Globally, R.I.T. comprises of 40 employees in Tokyo and a further 10 in New York. R.I.T.’s Paris office will start with an additional five employees and, combined with Rakuten’s Big Data Group in Paris, will add a total of 20 new employees to the Paris office within 2014  The R.I.T. department is situated in the classical Haussmann building, alongside Rakuten’s PriceMinister office.

R.I.T. focuses its research on projects which will support the development of the global e-commerce industry; ultimately to provide e-retailers with innovations to grow their brands. With this in mind, the institute will commission projects to help revolutionise data analytics, fraud detection, language, recommendation systems, image processing, user interfaces, and the ‘online to offline’ transition in e-commerce.

Successes from R.I.T centres in other parts of the world include Rakuten Analytics Tracker – which tracks and stores every interaction between a user and Rakuten’s services, TOHO Recommendation Engine, which suggests products that a user may like to buy, and ROMA – an open source key value store, which has replaced expensive database solutions and reduces hardware requirements across Rakuten’s businesses.

Rakuten Europe’s COO Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Rakuten’s CEO,Hiroshi Mikitani are responsible for R.I.T.’s expansion into Europe. Laurent Ach, a specialist in CGI and user interfaces, will head up the team of engineers, joining Rakuten specifically to set up the institute. A pioneer in technological innovation, his previous roles and responsibilities include technical direction of research projects and software development in the domain of telecoms, computer graphics, avatars and virtual assistants.

“From the Micral N, the world’s first personal computer, to the emergence of CG technology, France and Europe have developed world-leading culture, business and technology, and the number of qualified engineers and developers in France and Europe-wide is a real asset. Opening an R&D centre in Paris makes perfect sense for Rakuten, and is a fitting acknowledgement of the Group’s success in France and across Europe,” said Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, Chief Operations Officer of Rakuten Europe.

Laurent Ach, Director of the Rakuten Technology Institute in Paris, commented: “Rakuten’s business covers a wide variety of fields including logistics, digital media payments and of course e-commerce. Innovation is fundamental when it comes to improving these services, and we want to be the company anticipating future uses for these types of technology. The R.I.T. prides itself on bringing together the best creative thinkers to revolutionise internet retailing and digital business.”

Ach continued: “The Paris team will be focusing on the links between bricks-and-mortar stores and online services in particular, as well as exploring new forms of digital interaction. Setting up our department alongside the Rakuten PriceMinister team should also present some opportunities for collaboration and we are looking forward to learning from them.” 

CEO Hiroshi Mikitani

concluded: “Our aim globally is to empower retailers and merchants to sell online, and to do this we must keep up with consumers’ browsing and buying habits – online, on mobile, via social and any other channels that they may want to use in their purchase journey. That’s why we’ve increased the size of our global research team, so they can work on bringing the next big thing in e-commerce to market, with our support.

We’re dedicated to driving internet revolution as a global tech brand, and on our merchants' behalf. The more creative technology solutions there are, the stronger the domestic and global economies will be.” 

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of services for consumers and businesses, including in the areas of e-commerce, eReading, travel, banking, securities , credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. In both 2012 and 2013, Rakuten was ranked among the world’s ‘Top 10 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. For more information: http://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

About Laurent Ach

Laurent Ach is an engineer graduated from Ecole Centrale de Lyon in 1990. He started his career in Thales Group where he worked for ten years on artificial intelligence projects for French National Defense, computer graphics for virtual prototyping of cars, and on virtual humans for ergonomics studies. He later joined a start-up company developing a 3D streaming technology similar to Google Earth. He was responsible in Safran Group of organizing new collaborative processes in the domain of mobile telephony. Before being manager of Rakuten of Technology Paris, he was CTO of Cantoche, a company developing avatars and virtual assistants. He has leaded or contributed to several French and European collaborative research projects and always strove to make research organizations and companies work together and create innovative applications from scientific results.

 

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