The Japanese Rakotan shopping fever has reached Israel
The Japanese Internet giant that buys Weaver is almost unknown in Israel, but in the last two years it has been conducting a massive acquisition of commercial and content services in the West in order to become a global giant.
Japanese Rakotan was not a well-known name in Israel until the huge acquisition it announced on Friday, when it paid $ 900 million for Weaver. Rakuten (Japanese meaning: optimism) is a rising Internet giant located in Japan that says it wants to become the world's first Internet company. Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakotan, is considered the third richest man in Japan, who built all his fortune thanks to the establishment and growth of the company. Rakotan is known as Japan's Ebay, the country's largest e-commerce site, with about $ 4 billion a year in sales.
Miquitini (50) is a colorful figure in the Japanese landscape, with a Western-oriented global orientation and political ambitions. As part of his intention to set up a global Internet company, less than that of a kite, he requires all employees to send internal emails in English only. Rakotan is also the only conglomerate in Japan where there is no strict dress code and its employees can walk around in jeans and a T-shirt. "Mikitani created a very informal company," says Elhanan Harel, head of Harel Hertz Investment House, which specializes in commercial relations with Japan. "He declares: 'My seats are in Japan, I am from Japan, but Japan is only the basis for global growth.'"
Mikitani completed his undergraduate studies at a Japanese university, and during his work at the Japanese Industrial Bank he moved to the United States and completed his master's degree at Harvard.
Rakotan turns to the West and increases the pace of purchases
In recent years, Mikitani has begun a global acquisition of Internet companies, and the pace of acquisitions has increased in the last two years.
Among the most prominent acquisitions is Kobo, an e-book service with a library of 4 million books, magazines, newspapers and clients in 190 countries, which was acquired for $ 315 million. In the same year, Rokotan acquired for an unknown amount Wukai.tv, a VOD streaming service based in Spain that recently began to be established outside of the country and reached, for example, Britain.
In September 2013, Rakotan paid $ 200 million for Viki, which also offers VOD on the Internet, with a subscriber base of 30 million, of which $ 20 million is in Mobile. In September 2012, Mikitani led a $ 100 million round of investment in Pinterest, the American photo catalog site.
In addition to e-commerce and VOD videos, Rikuten is now considered to be the largest dining reservation in Japan, booking holidays and hotels, as well as the second largest digital credit card company in the country. Rakotan has 300 million users in Japan and its environs, and Weaver acquisition will allow it to expand its user base by 300 million people not only in Asia, but also in South America, Russia, the US and Australia.
"The Japanese usually consume their products and services on Japanese sites," says Harel. Instead of Facebook, popular in the country service called Mixi, and Yahoo Yahoo strong BB portal from the original Yahoo. Even when it comes to computer games, Gree is more popular than Zynga, a developer of games for Farmville, Cityville and poker.
Weaver will upgrade Rakuten's shopping experience
Japan is considered the largest electronic commerce site, but the line of a company with the same name is the largest chat app with 200 million users in Japan and abroad. "Lane is an application that is highly developed in terms of its business model, which includes advertising on the chat," says Harel. "I have no doubt that a rickster will do something similar and will start posting on Weaver's chat."
In an interview with Re / code, Micitani said over the weekend that the acquisition of Weaver was a necessary step for him, and that Weaver would in the future become the online shopping experience for ricotta, safer and more humane.
One of the business models adopted by Weaver involves a library of stickers, emoticons, and transcripts that can be delivered as part of the chat feed. "The Japanese are characterized by the fact that they rely heavily on buying products on the Net, so they tend to buy virtual goods, too, take Bitcoin, which holds the second most important site in Japan," says Harel.
Should we take care of Weaver's activity in Israel or its brand integrity? Harel claims that Japanese companies do not tend to erase companies they buy, especially since the acquisition is emphasized as a Cyprus company.
Rakotan has $ 1.4 billion in cash, so it can pay $ 900 million in cash, but it is doubtful whether the Weaver deal was entirely in cash. It is traded at a company value of $ 21 billion and its net profit in all of 2013 was $ 427 million