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Introduction of Rakuten, Japan’s unique internet related company

The landscape of business has changed recently due to Covid-19.   We often hear the winners and losers of business.

It is generally categorized that the winners are internet related business including online shopping and IT business while apparel, airlines and railroad companies and oil companies are the loser groups.

We often see the name of Softbank and Rakuten at the side of winners in Japan as they are in internet related business.

I would like to introduce Rakuten as Rakuten is the company who always have the vision for global market as a global innovation company with their unique business method.

What makes Rakuten unique:  Rakuten Ecosystem of Services


Rakteun is called as Japan’s Amazon as it started from online marketplace.

But what makes Rakuten’s unique is that they have created so-called Rakuten ecosystem of services which enabled them to keep expanding by providing more and more services.  They provide wide range of 70 + services and have over 1.5 billion users over 30 countries in the world.

Rakuten was founded in Japan in 1997 by Hiroshi Mikitani. The online marketplace “ Rakuten Ichiba” which is business-to-many EC platform was launched in May 1998 and Rakuten Auction was launched in July 1998.

Rakuten Ichiba, is now one of the largest e-commerce sites in Japan.  Centered around Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten offers over 70 + services including e-commerce, travel, digital content, FinTech, such as credit cards, banking, securities, insurance, electronic money and smartphone app payments, communications, including a mobile carrier service, and professional sports of baseball and football teams management.

Linking these diverse services through a common membership and loyalty program, Rakuten has created one of the world’s most unique and robust ecosystems of services by accessing using a single Rakuten member ID.

By using these services – whether shopping, streaming content, banking, or other – members can earn Rakuten Points, which can then be used to enjoy other services. As it enables and encourages user engagement across multiple platforms and services, the Rakuten Ecosystem has a unique strength that minimizes customer acquisition costs and maximizes the lifetime value of each Rakuten member to the Group and drives growth of gross transaction value.

Diverse, dynamic and open corporate culture


Rakuten is known to have the corporate culture of diversity management which is a drive to  foster new businesses.

What distinguishes Rakuten from its competitors is an open and dynamic corporate culture that fosters the exchange of diverse ideas among diverse workforce.

The company’s workforce is made up of employees from more than 70 countries.  They are the first company in Japan that has announced to set the official company language as English in 2010.

Other initiatives, such as holding weekly all-hands morning meetings to share business strategies with all employees, an open-plan office layout to encourage transparency and communication and a common Group-wide video conferencing system, also help Rakuten’s diverse employees to share information and collaborate freely.


Diverse Services



There are 70+ services currently offered by Rakuten group companies.   I will list down the known services as below, so you can see how wide of ranges of services they have.

Internet Services

  • Rakuten Ichiba: Online marketplace
  • Rakuten Books: Online book CD&DVD store
  • Rakuten Kobo: e-books and audiobooks store
  • Rakuten Fashion: Online fashion store
  • Rakuten 24: Oneline store for daily necessities
  • Rakuten Bic: Electronics e-commerce site
  • Rakuten Rebates: A point-back service offering Rakuten points for shopping on various affiliated official online stores
  • Rakuma: Consumer to consumer mobil e-commerce app
  • Rakuten Travel: Online travel and reservation website
  • Rakuten GORA: Online golf course reservations
  • Rakuten Beauty: Online beauty salon search and reservations
  • Rakuten Magazine: Online magazine subscription service
  • Rakuten Super Logistics: Distribution and fulfillment services for Rakuten Ichiba merchants and Rakuten group services

Communications & Energy

  • Rakuten Mobile: Mobil communications services
  • Rakuten Energy: Electricity and energy-related services and solutions
  • Rakuten Music: online music streaming services
  • NBA Rakuten: official NBA live streaming and video-on-demand service


  • Rakuten Bank: Internet banking
  • Rakuten Securities; Online brokerage
  • Rakuten Card: Credit card services
  • Rakuten Life Insurance
  • Rakuten General Insurance
  • Rakuten Pet Insurance
  • Rakuten Edy: Electronic Money
  • Rakuten Pay: Rakuten ID-based offline payment service
  • Rakuten Point Card: Point card service


  • Rakuten Recipe: Online receipt posting and browsing
  • Rakuten Infoseek: Portal site and search engine
  • Rakuten Pasha: Advertising service which allows businesses to reward customers with Rakuten super points for their in-store purchases
  • Rakuten Super Point Screen: Advertisement delivery app for smartphone with which Rakuten members can earn Rakuten super points.
  • Rakuten Insight: internet market research services

Sports & Entertainment

  • Rakuten Eagles: Professional Baseball club business
  • Vissel Kobe: Professional football team business

Global Business


Rakuten always had plans to move to the global business stage.   They first expanded

overseas for the first time in 2005 by acquiring US-based LinkShare Corporation (currently Rakuten Advertising).

In 2008 “Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba” was launched as first e-commerce business outside Japan.

Rakuten entered the eBook business by acquiring Kobo Inc. (currently Rakuten Kobo Inc.) in Canada and launching the kobo eBook service in Japan in 2012.

Currently Rakuten is operating over 30 countries in Europe, US and Asia.   Using English as their official language made easier for the Company to integrate the global business.

Rakuten believes the idea of Rakuten ecosystem can work in the world and they are in a process of reviewing the business portfolio to optimize the allocation of management resources, and focusing on strengthening the system for global optimization of technological development.

Rakuten in still in a process of developing their business in Asia.   They only offer online marketplace  and banking and credit card services in Taiwan and banking services in Singapore so far.  The joint venture online marketplace business in Indonesia did go well as they could not complete with rapidly growing e-commerce local companies.

While maximizing the growth of individual businesses and synergies between businesses, Rakuten believes that “Rakuten Ecosystem” has the unique strength to be accepted globally by building a global ID platform which provides global membership ID and royalty program such as Rakuten points.




Rakuten started with “Rakuten Ichiba”, their online marketplace with only 6 employees and 1 server and 13 merchants in 1997.

Then Rakuten went public through an IPO on TSE JASDAQ market in April 2000. In 2001, Rakuten Ichiba’s gross transaction value was 36 billion yen.

Then In 2002,  Rakuten Ichiba launches a “pay-as-you-go program,” as well as RakutenPoints service. No of Rakuten Ichiba merchants grew to 6,000, just 5 years after the service launched.

Rakuten reached over 1 trillion yen in gross transaction value and 38000 online merchants in 2011.

Then Rakuten changed the listing of its share from JASDAQ market to the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange, aiming for future expansion of business globally in 2013.

Rakuten now has 23,841 group employees globally with 70 nationalities.

Rakuten is one the most fast growing business groups in Japan which has established the unique method of provision of services.


Company Information


Name: Rakuten Group, Inc.

Headquarter Address: Rakuten Crimson House 1-14-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 158-0094

Chairman and CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani

Establishment: February 7, 1997

IPO: April 19, 2000

Capital:205,924 million yen (as of Dec. 31, 2020)

No. of Employees:Non-consolidated: 7,390, Consolidated: 23,841 (as of Dec. 31, 2020)