It’s all go at Rakuten right now. Fresh from announcing the $900 million acquisition of Viber last week, the Japanese e-commerce giant has opened an R&D office in Paris, which becomes its first Rakuten Institute of Technology (RIT) in Europe.
Rakuten has existing RIT centers in Tokyo and New York, which company CEO Hiroshi Mikitani says aim to bring “the next big thing in e-commerce to market.” RIT innovation is designed for Rakuten’s businesses and the e-commerce market in general, and past products have included analytics tracker services, recommendation engines and ROMA, an open source replacement for e-commerce databases.
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The Parisian branch of RIT is located in the same building as PriceMinister, the French e-commerce firm Rakuten bought for $250 million in 2010. It is initially staffed by five employees, though Rakuten aims to add 20 new hires by the end of this year.
“The Paris team will be focusing on the links between bricks-and-mortar stores and online services in particular, as well as exploring new forms of digital interaction. Setting up our department alongside the Rakuten PriceMinister team should also present some opportunities for collaboration and we are looking forward to learning from them, ” said Laurent Ach, who is heading up the RIT in Paris as its Director.
Image via Chris McGrath/Getty Images for Rakuten