FDI Japanese investments in EU acquired by Rakuten

Rakuten continues worldwide acquisitions to globalize

by Gerhard Fasol

acquired London based virtual fitting room mannequin venture

Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce + e-finance group, is acquiring many companies around the world both to acquire technology, and to acquire e-commerce capabilities outside Japan in order to globalize. Find some of Rakuten’s recent acquisitions in Europe listed here:

On July 13, 2015 Rakuten acquired London based virtual fitting room venture, both to acquire technology and we assume, also to contribute to Rakuten’s globalization. – virtual fitting room, robot mannequins, and fit advisor was founded in 2010 by two Estonian friends, Paul Pällin and Heikki Haldre, in Estonia, and in 2012 the company moved its headquarters to London. helps consumers visualize how they might look like dressed with clothes from an e-commerce site, and turning around, allows e-retailers to collect data about their potential customers. offers a number of service versions ranging from “virtual fitting rooms” to “fit advisors”.

Once the customers has entered his/her body dimensions, weight and other data,’s web mannequins represent the customer’s body dimensions, and show how selected clothing would look like on a web mannequin with the customer’s body data. received US$ 14.3 million in founding in three rounds:

  • Seed: US$ 1.8 million (Sept 22, 2010)
    • Estonian Development Fund
  • Series A: US$ 7.2 million (April 17, 2013)
    • Conor Venture Partners
    • Entrepreneurs Fund
    • Fostergate Holdings
    • SmartCap AS
  • Venture: US$ 5.3 million (Oct 24, 2014)
    • Entrepreneurs Fund
    • SmartCap AS
    • James B Gambrell
  • Total = US$ 14.3 million


Rakuten was founded by Hiroshi Mikitani, and is Japan’s leading e-commerce and e-finance company developing a global footprint through a long series of acquisitions around the globe. Find some of Rakuten’s recent acquisitions in Europe listed here:

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Japanese investments in EU M&A acquired by Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Your online video service

Rakuten’s first entry into Spain’s markets

On June 13, 2012, Rakuten acquired Spanish online streaming video-on-demand (VOD) provider – slogan: Your online video service was founded 2009 in Barcelona by current CEO Jacinto Roca. is funded by Bonsai Capital, Axon Capital, and Marc Ingla, former Vice-President of the football club “Futbol Club Barcelona”. offers on-demand internet rental streaming video / media based on content distribution agreements with major Hollywood studies, local studies, and partnership agreements with TV and other device manufacturers. Download or storage is currently not supported.

  • “rental” is typically for unlimited viewing within a 48 hours rental period
  • “buying” typically allows unlimited viewing for a period of 3 years or longer
  • “Season Pass” available for some TV series about “We offer the latest Hollywood blockbusters, the most popular TV series, and the best films from independent filmmakers. All this, easily accessible from your computer, Smart TV, tablet, phone and gaming console.” (from the website)


  • Spain: 600,000
  • Andorra:
  • United Kingdom: 400,000 (December 2014), started in July 2013 at an introductory price of UKL 2.99/month (to be raised to UKL 5.99)
  • France: (start on September 15, 2014 with a soft-launch for 10,000 users). Rakuten is planning to leverage PriceMinister’s 20 million members
  • Total: 1.85 million (December 2014) is reported to enter Italy, Germany and 12 more markets in the near future.


  • Android
  • Chromecast
  • iPad
  • PC (with Adobe Flash Player (version 10 or higher) installed)
  • Mac (with Adobe Flash Player (version 10 or higher) installed)
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • SmartTV (eg. Samsung, LG, Panasonic etc)
  • Xbox360, XboxONE
  • EETV set top box

Platform usage (December 2014):

  • TV: 40%
  • Smartphones and tablets: 28%
  • PC/Mac web browser: 21%
  • Game consoles: 11%
  • Total: 100%

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

DC Storm acquired by Rakuten Marketing to strengthen marketing analytics and attribution

Rakuten acquires marketing attribution specialist

Following acquisition of Adometry by Google and of Convertro by AOL

On May 28, 2014, Rakuten Marketing announced the acquisition of the Brighton (UK) based marketing attribution specialist DC Storm.

Although terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, Google on May 6, 2014 acquired Adometry for about US$ 150 million, and AOL on the same day acquired Convertro for US$ 101 million. Therefore we assume that Rakuten Marketing probably also paid on the order of US$ 100 million for DC Storm.

Marketing attribution: measuring return (ROI) on marketing investment

Marketing attribution has its origin in the work of Austrian psychologist Fritz Heider‘s work on Attribution Theory, and his seminal work “The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations” of 1958.

Attribution is the process by which people explain the causes for actions, and models for these processes (source: Wikipedia).

Marketing attribution develops understanding of which combination of events leads individuals to take particular actions, e.g. to conclude a purchase for example (source: Wikipedia Attribution (marketing))

Marketing attribution specialist companies have recently been very popular acquisition targets:

  • Convertro (about 60 employees) acquired by AOL for US$ 101 million, announced on May 6, 2014
  • Adometry (about 130 employees) acquired by Google for an estimated US$ 150 million, announced on May 6, 2014
  • DC Storm acquired by Rakuten Marketing, announced on May 28, 2014
  • Visual IQ ? (about 190 employees)
  • C3 Metrics
  • DataSong
  • Encore Metrics

DC Storm

DC Storm is headquartered at Brighton, UK, with offices in US and in Germany. DC Storm was founded in 2004 by current CEO, Seth Richardson, who designed and coded the initial versions of DC Storm’s digital marketing analysis platform.

DC Storm offers digital marketing companies attribution tools, analysis and consulting services, and tag management.

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

Alpha Direct Services (ADS) acquired by Rakuten to build European logistics

Rakuten builds European logistics infrastructure

Rakuten’s 6th acquisition in Europe

Rakuten is aggressively globalizing in the face of intense competition by, and more recently Alibaba. As part of global growth, Rakuten is acquiring a string of e-commerce, e-book, online media, and software and service companies in Europe. Now Rakuten has started to build fulfillment logistics infrastructure in Europe to strengthen the backend of e-commerce.

On November 6, 2012, Rakuten announced the acquisition of logistics specialist Alpha Direct Services (ADS), based in Beauvais (France), from the previous owners:

Note that in 2013, Rakuten acquired the US-based logistics company Webgistix, continuing the strategy to build a global logistics network.

Alpha Direct Services (ADS)

Alpha Direct Services (ADS) was founded in 2002 by Adrian Diaconu based on the acquisition of the French book club enterprise “Grand Livre du Mois”, with annual sales of € 3.5 million (US$ 4 million).

ADS offers a global value chain:

  • front-end websites
  • order management
  • receipt of products
  • storage, warehousing
  • order picking
  • fulfillment delivery, shipping (BtoB and BtoC)
  • reverse logistics
  • customer relationship management (CRM)

Adrian Deacon developed Alpha Direct Services (ADS) into a mail order, e-commerce and multi-channel logistics company.

Alpha Direct Services (ADS):

  • 490 employees
  • storage surfaces: total 130,000 square meters
  • inventory: 2 million products
  • 24 million packages shipped/year
  • 180 active clients

Alpha Direct Services (ADS) growth:

  • 2007: acquired Evreux logistical unit
  • 2013: acquired Moissy-Cramayel logistical unit
  • 2014: 13,000 square meter extension of Beauvais logistical unit

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

Aquafadas SAS acquired by Rakuten via e-reader company Kobo

Kobo acquires French digital publishing tool company Aquafadas

Rakuten acquired e-reader manufacturer Kobo

Rakuten acquired 100% of e-reader manufacturer Kobo for US$ 315 million in cash in January 2012.

Kobo announced the acquisition of French digital publishing company Aquafadas on October 10, 2012.

Aquafadas was founded in Montpeller in 2004 by Matthieu Kopp (CTO) and Claudia Zimmer (CEO). Today headquarters are located in the Montpellier International Business Incubator’s (MIBI).

“Aquafadas” is the combination of “Aqua”, the name for Apple OSX’ graphical user interface and “fada”, which is the goddess of inspiration (Muse) in Occitan (the original language used in the Provence).

Tools include:

  • InDesign Authoring: publishing customer mobile apps for iOS and Android using Adobe InDesign
  • Cloud Authoring: conversion of print to interactive mobile apps, e-books and web applications
  • CreativeFlow: creating of digital magazine apps
  • ConversionFlow: importing print documents to smartphones, tablets and web
  • Aquafadas Viewer
  • AppFactory
  • ComicComposer
  • Cloud Connect
  • App Marketing Tools
  • SDK Packages

Desktop apps include:

  • MotionComposer
  • BannerZest
  • PulpMotion
  • KidsMotion
  • SnapFlow
  • iDive
  • Videopier

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

Rakuten acquires UK e-commerce portal third European company acquired by

Rakuten continues global battle with

On September 21, 2011, Rakuten announced acquisition of 100% of the UK e-commerce portal site for UKL 25 million (approx. US$ 40 million).

Rakuten’s acquisition of (UK) follows the acquisitions of PriceMinister (France) and Tradoria (Germany). sells music, books, clothes, accessories and electronics, and has 14 million registered users and 7 million listed products. is the largest UK online seller of DVDs. has approximately 500 employees. was founded in 1998 on Jersey (Channel Islands) by Richard Goulding, Simon Perrée and Peter de Bourcier – all 28 years old – in backrooms of the local Athlete’s Foot store, run by founders Richard Goulding, Simon Perrée, and with investment from Zuma Investments Limited (registered in Jersey, see registration information in the JFSC Companies Registry here).

  • In 2004 sold 15 million shipments and sales of UKL 190m
  • In 2005 sold 25 million shipments and a sales of UKL 250m
  • In 2011 is estimated to achieve sales of UKL 400 million and the Channel Island tax loophole

Under EU rules established around 1980, merchandise priced less than UKL 18 (approx. US$ 30) from Channel Island based websites could be sold to customers in the UK without paying VAT (value added tax). UK plans to close this loophole by March 2012.

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

Rakuten acquires 80% of German e-commerce platform Tradoria

Rakuten continues global expansion

Competing with….

On July 28, 2011, Rakuten announced the acquisition of 80% of Germany’s e-commerce site Tradoria for a “double-digit million” amount.

Tradoria has been rebranded as and has become part of Rakuten Deutschland GmbH.


Tradoria was founded in 2007, and today has more than 4400 online stores offering approximately 8 million products.

Tradoria is based in Bamberg, and before the acquisition by Rakuten, investors included:

  • Seventure Partners (about 24 %)
  • DuMont Venture (about 19 %)
  • European Founders Fund of the Samwer brothers (about 11 %)

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FDI Japanese investments in EU M&A

Rakuten acquires French ecommerce portal

Rakuten continues to globalize via acquisitions

Rakuten seeks to compete globally with

Rakuten acquires 100% of shares of PriceMinister S.A. for €200 million (= approx. US$ 250 million). The transaction is expected to close at the end of July 2010.

PriceMinister S.A.

PriceMinister was founded in 2000 by current CEO Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, and Pierre Krings, Justin Ziegler and Olivier Mathiot in a former Zeppelin factory, and achieved revenues of € 40 million in 2009.

PriceMinister S.A.‘s website has approximately 12 million members, is visited by approximately 11 million users/month.

PriceMinister S.A. has about 100,000 sellers and 21,000 merchants offering about 160 million products.

PriceMinister S.A. has established online businesses in:

The PriceMinister Group has five business areas:

  1. guaranteed buying and selling (marketplace)
  2. automobiles (classifieds):
  3. travel (price comparison):
  4. real estate (classifieds)
  5. email marketing

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