Rakuten, Inc. (楽天株式会社 Rakuten Kabushiki-kaisha?) (JASDAQ: 4755) is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo, Japan. Among its numerous online properties, its flagship B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) model e-commerce site Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales. Its global presence has been reinforced through the acquisitions of leading online marketplaces Buy.com (US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland) and Play.com (UK), and investments in Ozon.ru and AHA Life. Whereas other marketplaces may compete directly with sellers, Rakuten’s model seeks to empower merchants to deliver "Omotenashi", a Japanese high service mindset, which helps sellers create lasting relationships with customers. Rakuten has been expanding rapidly overseas in recent years, primarily through acquisitions and joint ventures. Its founder, chairman and chief executive officer is Hiroshi Mikitani. The company has its headquarters in the Shinagawa Seaside Rakuten Tower (品川シーサイド楽天タワー Shinagawa Shīsaido Rakuten Tawā?) in Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo. The company was founded in February 1997 as MDM, Inc. Rakuten Shopping Mall (楽天市場 Rakuten Ichiba?) started operations in May the same year. In June 1999 MDM, Inc. changed its name to Rakuten, Inc. Rakuten's 2011 revenues were US$ 4.7 billion with operating profits of approximately US$886M, suggesting an 18.8% operating profit margin. The company is publicly-traded (JASDAQ: 4755). As of December 2011, it has a market capitalization of US$13 billion and some 10,000 employees worldwide. Rakuten ranks amongst the top 10 Internet companies in the world (along with Google, Amazon, eBay, Baidu, Yahoo, etc.).
Lines of business
The Rakuten Group is composed of the following businesses:
1. E-Commerce Marketplace, managing Japan's largest online retail marketplace; 2. Credit and Payments, offering personal consumer credit services including consumer loan card payment and loans 3. Portal and Media, managing portal sites—which act as the gateway to the internet—and performing other activities; 4. Travel, operating hotel booking and other travel-related websites and providing other services; 5. Securities, providing services such as online securities brokerage; 6. Professional Sports, managing a professional baseball team, planning and selling related merchandise and performing other activities; and 7. Banking, offering card loan, mortgage and other banking services for individuals. Rakuten's online shopping business, Rakuten Ichiba, is the largest online shopping mall in Japan, and allows customers to shop more than 95 million products from around 40,000 merchants. It has 6 million credit card holders and a membership of over 75 million users in Japan. As part of its Internationalization efforts, Rakuten Ichiba has started offering international shipping.
In October 2005, Rakuten bought a 15% stake in Tokyo Broadcasting System thereby raising its ownership to 19%. Rakuten was said to plan a merger with the broadcast company, but eventually withdrew its bid and divested its shareholdings. Rakuten owns a US specialized subsidiary, FreeCause, founded in 2006 and located in Boston, Massachusetts, that develops and enhances loyalty rewards programs for major brands, airlines, hotels, sports teams and non-profits. As of January 2012, it has more than 20,000,000 members, 3,500 partners and merchants, and 300 clients. The USA headquarters for Rakuten is also located in Boston. Rakuten was a significant shareholder in Ctrip, a Chinese travel site, but in August 2007, the company sold its share in Ctrip. Later in 2005, Rakuten acquired Linkshare (now "Rakuten Linkshare"), a New York City-based company, dealing in sales and marketing performance analysis. In 2010, in another effort to...
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