Since our foundation in 1997, innovation has been at the core of who we are. With the mission of "empowering people and society through innovation and entrepreneurship," and in line with our vision as a Global Innovation Company, we have engaged in a wide range of businesses and services. Here are some key milestones in the history of the Rakuten Group so far.
The founding of Rakuten and the early years of internet shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba
In an era when everyone seems to be saying that people will not buy things on the internet, Rakuten Ichiba, a B2B2C marketplace, launches with just six employees, one server, 13 merchants and the strong desire to empower merchants that are small, regional or perhaps unfamiliar with computers and the internet.
MDM, Inc. (currently Rakuten, Inc.) is founded.
Rakuten Ichiba, the internet shopping mall, begins service.
Rakuten Super Auction, the predecessor service of Rakuten Auction, is launched. (It was ultimately incorporated into the Rakuma C2C flea market app in 2016.)
MDM, Inc. is renamed as Rakuten, Inc.
IPO and expansion of Rakuten Group
Rakuten enhances its brand awareness widely while accelerating M&A activities through an IPO on the OTC market, representing a major step into the new businesses and services that will ultimately constitute the Rakuten Ecosystem.
Rakuten University is established to deliver the know-how of managing an internet shop for merchants on Rakuten Ichiba.
Rakuten goes public through an IPO on the OTC market (currently TSE JASDAQ market).
Rakuten launches the first version of the “Rakuten Ichiba” site compatible with mobile phones.
Rakuten acquires Infoseek Japan K.K., a popular portal site and search engine.
A vision of Rakuten Group reaching 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value
Rakuten announces the ambitious target of 1 trillion yen for gross transaction value, at a time when it has only 36 billion yen gross transaction value. (The target was achieved in Q4 of FY2006.)
Rakuten Travel, an online hotel reservation service, is launched.
Rakuten Books, an online book shopping service, is launched.
Innovation of the Rakuten Ichiba business model
To achieve a further win-win relationship with merchants, Rakuten Ichiba launches a "pay-as-you-go program,” as well as Rakuten Points service. Rakuten Ichiba welcomes its 6,000th registered merchant, just 5 years after the service launched.
A new merchant fee contract system based on a "pay-as-you-go program" is introduced by Rakuten Ichiba.
Rakuten Point Program is introduced as a new membership loyalty program, enabling users to earn points when they purchase products on Rakuten Ichiba. (Subsequently, it became possible for users to earn and use points at Rakuten Group's various services.)
Enhancement of Group synergy
Rakuten Group dramatically expands scope and scale of operations by adding new core businesses.
On Rakuten Ichiba, it becomes possible to make purchases using Rakuten Points.
- Infoseek Japan K.K. merges into Rakuten.
- Rakuten fully acquires MyTrip.net to spearhead its online travel business.
Rakuten Point Club is introduced, giving special benefits to users according to their accumulated Rakuten Points.
Rakuten acquires DLJdirect SFG Securities (currently Rakuten Securities, Inc.).
Entry into Japanese professional baseball
Rakuten enters the arena of professional sports with the formation of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the first new professional Japanese baseball franchise awarded in 50 years, instantly spreading the Rakuten brand nationwide.View More
Rakuten fully acquires Minnano Shushoku Inc., an online community for job seekers. (It was ultimately incorporated into Rakuten, Inc. in 2009.)
Rakuten fully acquires Aozora Card Co., Ltd. (currently known as Rakuten Card Co., Ltd.).
Rakuten Baseball, Inc. is founded to manage professional sports businesses.
Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) approves the entry of "Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles" into the league.
Strengthening financial businesses while making the first push outside Japan
Synergy of credit card and e-commerce services generates substantial profits for the Rakuten Group.
Rakuten expands overseas for the first time by acquiring U.S.-based LinkShare Corporation (currently Rakten Marketing LLC).
Rakuten commences credit card payment service with Rakuten Card by acquiring Kokunai Shinpan Co., Ltd. (currently KC Card Co., Ltd.; divested in 2011).
- Rakuten enters the U.S. affiliate marketing business by fully acquiring LinkShare Corporation (currently Rakuten Marketing LLC).
- Rakuten establishes Rakuten Institute of Technology in Tokyo, an R&D institute focused on advanced internet technologies.
Vision of the Rakuten Ecosystem
Rakuten announces its vision for a "Rakuten Ecosystem" that encourages users to enjoy multiple services offered by the Rakuten Group, a one-of-a-kind member-based business model.
Rakuten and All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) establish Rakuten ANA Travel Online Co., Ltd.
Rakuten introduces "Growth Management Program" to manage the profitability and growth potential of each business unit, reorganizing its management structure into 38 business units.
Further investment in human resources
Rakuten deepens its commitment to investing in human resources over the following 10 years, reflecting its belief that employee development is essential for Rakuten's growth.
Rakuten fully acquires Rakuten Research, Inc.(currently Rakuten Insight, Inc.)
- Rakuten moves its corporate headquarters to the Shinagawa Seaside, Rakuten Tower (Tokyo).
- Rakuten acquires Fusion Communications Corp. to commence IP telephony business.
First e-commerce expansion overseas
"Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba" launches as first e-commerce business outside Japan.
In Japan, the Rakuten Group intensifies its focus on improving customer service.
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.
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.
Rakuten acquires O-net, Inc., a bridal information and service provider.
Strengthening the Rakuten Ecosystem
Rakuten further strengthens the Rakuten Ecosystem by expanding its financial services, such as banking and e-money.
Rakuten acquires eBank Corporation (now Rakuten Bank, Ltd.).
Pay-per-view video service provider SHOWTIME, Inc. is made a wholly-owned subsidiary through additional stock purchase.
Rakuten forms capital alliance with Bit Wallet, Inc. (now Rakuten Edy, Inc.), which operates e-money business.
Transforming into a truly global company
Rakuten accelerates its global business, shifting from a Japan-based venture to a global internet services company.
Rakuten acquires bitWallet, Inc. (now Rakuten Edy, Inc.).
- Rakuten acquires LinkShare Japan K.K. by merging it with TRAFFIC GATE, LTD.
- Rakuten initiates "Englishnization" project to adopt English as its official corporate language.
Rakuten establishes Rakuten Institute of Technology in New York, an R&D institute focused on advanced internet technologies.
- 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 Rakuten France S.A.S.), which operates Rakuten France, an e-commerce site in France.
Rakuten Ichiba exceeds 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value
After 14 years, Rakuten Ichiba achieves over 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value and 38,000 online merchants.
Rakuten intensifies membership-based e-commerce business worldwide.
Rakuten establishes the San Francisco Agile Development Center in the U.S. as a development center for Rakuten Group's various services worldwide.
Rakuten acquires Ikeda Internet Software Ltda. (now Rakuten Brasil Internet Service Ltda.), an e-commerce provider in Brazil.
Rakuten acquires Tradoria GmbH. (now Rakuten Deutschland GmbH), which operates Tradoria (now Rakuten.de), an e-commerce site in Germany.
Rakuten Ichiba achieves 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value.
Entering the eBook business and the official start of "Englishnization"
Rakuten enters the eBook business by acquiring Kobo Inc. (currently Rakuten Kobo Inc.) in Canada and launching the kobo eBook service in Japan.
Englishnization initiatives accelerate the smooth integration of group companies worldwide.
Rakuten Ichiba passes 100,000,000 product SKUs.
Rakuten fully acquires Canadian eBook Company Kobo, Inc. (currently Rakuten Kobo Inc.), a world leader in eReading.
Rakuten launches internet shopping mall Rakuten.com.br Shopping in Brazil through its group company Rakuten Brasil Internet Service Ltda.
Rakuten forms a business and capital alliance with Stylife Corporation, which operates an e-commerce business in the fashion/apparel sector.
- Rakuten fully acquires Wuaki.TV, S.L. (now Wuaki.TV, S.L.U.), a video streaming service based in Spain.
- Rakuten acquires Kenko.com. Inc., which operates an online health care goods shopping site.
- Rakuten designates English as its official corporate language after successful completion of two-year transition.
- Rakuten launches the kobo eBook service in Japan.
Rakuten acquires AIRIO Life Insurance Co., Ltd. (now Rakuten Life Insurance Co., Ltd.).
Rakuten fully acquires Alpha Direct Services S.A.S, a logistics company based in France.
Rakuten Eagles achieves their first ever Japan Series Championship. Rakuten, Inc. is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Rakuten Eagles achieve first ever Japan Series 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.View More
Rakuten Group rebrands AIRIO Life Insurance as Rakuten Life Insurance Co., Ltd.
- Rakuten fully acquires Webgistix Corp., (now Rakuten Super Logistics, Inc.), a logistics company based in the U.S.
- Rakuten launches Rakuten Energy, the energy service business of the Rakuten Group.
Rakuten fully acquires Viki, Inc., an emerging global provider of video streaming service based in the U.S.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles win the Japan Series Championship for the first time in their history.
Rakuten changes the listing of its shares from the JASDAQ (Standard) market to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Strengthening telecommunications and O2O Services
With its acquisition of Viber and the launch of low-cost calling service "Rakuten Mobile," Rakuten strengthens its telecommunications and communications services.
Rakuten launches various new services including O2O services.
Rakuten expands its global gross transaction value, adding next generation shopping mall Ebates.View More
Rakuten opens the third Rakuten Institute of Technology, in Paris, the first in Europe.
Rakuten fully acquires Viber Media Ltd., which operates mobile messaging and VoIP service "Viber" worldwide.
Rakuten opens a permanent "Rakuten CAFE" in Shibuya, allowing patrons to experience a variety of Rakuten services.
- Rakuten opens its 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.
Rakuten fully acquires Slice Technologies, Inc., provider of app service "Slice," which aggregates users’ purchase history by analyzing emails from several major e-commerce sites.
- Rakuten launches the Rakuten Point Card service, allowing members to use their Rakuten Points in actual stores throughout Japan.
- Rakuten fully acquires Ebates Inc., provider of leading membership-based online cash-back site Ebates in the U.S.
- Rakuten Group fully enters the mobile phone industry with the launch of the MVNO service "Rakuten Mobile."
Rakuten launches "Rakuma," a new C2C app that enables transactions between individuals via smartphone.
Strengthening sports and culture businesses. Expanding overseas financial services
Rakuten strengthens sports and culture businesses by adding Vissel Kobe to the Rakuten Group.
Rakuten expands overseas financial services, starts to issue "Taiwan Rakuten Card."
- 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, outside Japan for the first time.
Rakuten fully acquires OverDrive Holdings, Inc., a leading eBook content provider primarily for libraries.
Rakuten begins relocation to new global headquarters Rakuten Crimson House in Futako Tamagawa, Tokyo.
- Rakuten fully acquires Fits.me Holdings Limited, a provider of virtual fitting room technology.
- Rakuten opens new branches of Rakuten Institute of Technology in Singapore and Boston, bringing the total number of branches to five across four countries.
Developing new businesses, promoting diversity
Rakuten further explores new business models, such as a C2C marketplace and an open e-commerce platform, while also conducting a trial drone delivery service.View More
Rakuten releases the Rakuma consumer mobile e-commerce app in Taiwan.
Rakuten launches Sora Raku, a delivery service utilizing drones.
- Rakuten introduces a company-system organization to assure service quality and maximize customer satisfaction.
- Rakuten extends employee and services benefits to include same-sex partners.
- Rakuten opens Rakuten Blockchain Lab (R.B.L.), a dedicated research and development organization.
- Rakuten fully acquires Fablic, provider of C2C marketplace app FRIL.
Rakuten acquires Soukai Drug Co., Ltd., which operates an online household goods shopping site.
- Rakuten acquires ReDucate, Inc., which operates educational services.
- Rakuten announces that it will become football team FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner from the 2017-2018 La Liga season.
Building Rakuten brand overseas through global partnership
Rakuten launches its global partnership with FC Barcelona, one of the most iconic and beloved football clubs in the world.
Rakuten strengthens the Rakuten gloablly through brand unification.
Total number of Rakuten Points awarded exceeds 1 trillion.View More
Establishment of Rakuten Europe Bank announced.
- Registration as retail electricity provider completed, enabling official start of electricity retail business.
- Car park sharing service Rakupa launched (now Rakuten Parking).
Joint venture Rakuten AirMap established to provide unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform in Japan.
- Agriculture service Rakuten Farm (formerly Rakuten Ragri) launched.
- Rakuten enters English education business with the launch of Rakuten Super English.
Vacation rental business Rakuten LIFULL STAY established through joint investment by Rakuten and LIFULL.
- Merger between Kenko.com and Soukai Drug establishes Rakuten Direct.
- Rakuten Life Insurance Technology Laboratory established, specializing in insurtech research.
- Logos of Rakuten Group services around the world unified under "Rakuten" brand in order to strengthen brand awareness globally.
- Rakuten becomes the Main Global Partner and first-ever Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner of FC Barcelona.
- Total number of Rakuten Points awarded exceeds 1 trillion.
- Rakuten Data Marketing jointly established by Rakuten and Dentsu to offer marketing solutions utilizing big data.
Rakuten becomes Official EC Platform Partner of the J.League, relaunching the J.League Online Store.
Partnership formed with NBA team Golden State Warriors.
Rakuten and NBA announce partnership to provide comprehensive live NBA coverage in Japan.
Rakuten acquires Plus One Marketing's domestic MVNO cellular service provider Freetel.