Rakuten, Inc. history, profile and corporate video

 Rakuten, Inc. engages in the comprehensive internet services business. It operates through the following segments: Internet Services, Internet Finance, and Others. The Internet Services segment deals with advertising and content sales in internet shopping mall, various e-commerce sites, hotel reservation sites, and portal sites. The Internet Finance segment handles banking and securities, credit card related services, and electronic money (e-money) businesses. The Others segment includes telecommunication service and manages professional baseball team. The company was founded by Hiroshi Mikitani on February 7, 1997 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

“Rakuten History

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

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.


  • Feb
    MDM, Inc., the precursor to Rakuten, Inc., is founded
  • May
    “Rakuten Ichiba,” the Internet shopping mall, begins service


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


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

2000: IPO and Expansion of Rakuten Group

Rakuten enhances its brand awareness widely while accelerating M&A activities through an IPO on JASDAQ, respresnting a big step forward for moving into new businesses and services to that will shape “Rakuten Ecosystem.”


  • Jan
    “Rakuten University” is established to deliver the know-how of managing the Internet shop for merchants of Rakuten Ichiba
  • Apri
    Rakuten goes public through an IPO on the 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 Transaction Volume” as Rakuten Group

Rakuten announces 1 trillion yen gross annual billing target for the Rakuten Group at the time when it had only 36 billion yen gross transaction volume (Rakuten Group had achieved 1 trillion yen in 2007 and 3 trillion yen in 2011).


  • 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

  • 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 merchantsin 5 years since the service launch.


  • 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 (All products sold on Rakuten Ichiba generate Super Points that can be used to pay for shopping in any merchant’s store, which are now available for the other Rakuten Group’s services)

2003: Enhancement of Group Synergy

Rakuten Group dramatically expands scope and scale of operations by adding new core businesses.


  • Sep
    Infoseek Japan K.K. merged into Rakuten
    Rakuten acquires MyTrip.net (currently Rakuten Travel, Inc.) to spearhead its online travel business
  • Nov
    Rakuten acquires DLJdirect SFG Securities (currently Rakuten Securities, Inc.)

2004: Entry into Japanese Professional Baseball

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 putting the “Rakuten” brand in newspapers across the country on a daily basis.


  • May
    Rakuten acquires Minnano Shushoku Inc., an online community for job seekers
  • Sep
    Rakuten 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

  • 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.


  • 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
  • Dec
    Rakuten Auction, Inc. founded as a joint venture with NTT DOCOMO, INC.

2006: Vision of Rakuten Ecosystem

Rakuten announces its vision for a “Rakuten Ecosystem,” which connects online and offline services across Rakuten Group.


  • 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

Growth of employees is essential for Rakuten’s growth. Rakuten deepens commitment to investing in significant human resources over subsequent 10 years.


  • 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

  • “Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba” launched as first e-commerce business outside Japan.
  • In Japan, Rakuten Ichiba intensifies focus on improving customer service.


  • 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

Rakuten further enforces “Rakuten Ecosystem” by expanding its financial services, such as banking and e-money.


  • Feb
    Rakuten acquires eBank Corporation (now Rakuten Bank, Ltd.)
  • 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

Rakuten accelerates a global business, shifting to a new stage to be a global Internet services company starting from a venture in Japan.


  • 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 acquires Buy.com, Inc., one of the U.S. leading e-commerce companies
    Rakuten acquires PriceMinister S.A. (now PriceMinister S.A.S.), the most visited e-commerce site in France

2011: Rakuten Ichiba Exceeds 1 Trillion Yen in 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.


  • 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., launches Indonesia-based Internet shopping mall, “Rakuten Belanja Online”
    Rakuten acquires Ikeda Internet Software LTDA. (now Rakuten Brazil Holdings LTDA), one of Brazil’s leading e-commerce platform providers
  • Jul
    Rakuten acquires Tradoria GmbH. (now Rakuten Deutschland GmbH), one of Germany’s leading online e-commerce platform providers
  • Sep
    Rakuten acquires minority stake in OZON.ru., a leading Internet service company in Russia
  • Oct
    Rakuten acquires Play Holdings Limited, one of the UK’s most successful e-commerce businesses
  • Dec
    Rakuten Ichiba achieves 1 trillion yen in gross transaction volume.

2012: Entering eBook Business and Official Start of “Englishnization”

  • Rakuten enters into eBook business on a full scale by acquring 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.


  • Jan
    Rakuten acquires Canadian eBook Company Kobo, Inc., a world leader in eReading.
  • Apr
    Rakuten launches Internet shopping mall “Rakuten.com.br Shopping” in Brazil
  • 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.
    Rakuten establishes Rakuten Malaysia Sdn.Bhd in preparation for local e-commerce service launch
  • Jun
    Rakuten acquires Wuaki.TV, S.L.(Spain), an emerging European provider of on-demand video service
  • 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.”

*Information from Forbes.com and Rakuten.co.jp

**Video published on YouTube by “RakutenGlobal