Who Is Rakuten? ‘The Amazon Of Japan’ Says Kobo CEO

Last night Canadian eBook company Kobo announced that they were being acquired by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten in a $315 million cash deal. Who is Rakuten and what does this mean for Kobo? Founded in 1997 as an online shopping mall, the company sells pretty much anything you can imagine. This includes books, baseballs, bridal gowns and plane tickets. No wonder their website claims to be, “Japan’s No. 1 Shopping Site.”

Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis, described the company as “the Amazon of Japan,” with a $15 billion business and more than 50 million customers worldwide. In an interview with Digital Book World, Serbinis talked about what the deal means for Kobo. He said: “From our standpoint, this really gives us an opportunity to accelerate our growth, both with Rakutan’s financial resources, e-commerce platform, base of customers, as well as their distribution internationally. It offered the opportunity to get bigger, faster and to do so with someone that has the short-term financial capabilities and a long-term view on this and a significant balance sheet.”

Rakuten has been on a buying spree this year. TechCrunch has more: “The company acquired French e-commerce company PriceMinisterfor $250 million – back in 2010 and bought Tradoria, a German online shopping mall, in July 2011. Rakuten also recently acquired Brazilian e-commerce company Ikeda in addition to Buy.com (also for $250 million) and Play.com.