Japanese Company Rakuten’s Global English Expansion

E-commerce and Internet Company based in Japan, Rakuten Inc is one of the largest companies of its nature. The company was established in February 1997 by CEO Hirosh Mikitani under the name of MDM Inc. Rakuten is the Japanese word for optimism and the company changed its name to this in June 1999. It is quite a fitting name because Mikitani was quite optimistic about the potential growth of the company. His optimism was proven valid when the company topped revenues of US$4.6 billion in 2012 and today the company now boasts a total of 10,351 employees worldwide.

The Rakuten English Team

For those, who want to know more about the Japanese online store, I suggest that you familiarise yourself with the Rakuten Japan English guide. This easy guide, should help you to convert the original Japanese Rakuten’s e-commerce shop to the English language easily. Obviously the global expansion and the original website are very different entities. The later being one of the biggest online stores not only in Japan but in the rest of the world. So remember to check that out too.

Global Expansion

The Japanese company began to expand beyond Japan in 2005 through acquisitions and joint ventures. In that year, the company bought popular performance-based online sales and marketing network, Linkshare based in the United States. They rebranded the company as Rakuten Linkshare. In 2010, Rakenten Inc bought French online retailer Priceminister, United States company Buy.com, and announced its joint venture with Chinese company, Baidu.

In 2011, Rakuten made major strides in its quest for global expansion. The company launched the joint venture Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia. They also acquired the Brazillian ecommerce firm Ikeda. In July of that same year, the company acquired German ecommerce site, Tradoria and renamed it Rakuten Deutschland. September came with the acquisition of UK online retailer Play.com which Rakuten bought for approximately $41 million, along with the acquisition of a minority equity stake in Russian online retailer Ozon.ru which has commonly been referred to as ‘Russia’s Amazon’. This was a major deal since in Ozon.ru reported sales worth US$137 million.

In 2012, Rakuten made English the company’s official language in an effort to increase its global reach and competitiveness. The company continued expansions and acquisitions when it bought Canadian ebook reader company Kobo. In May, Rakuten became the leading business investor, investing $100 million in Pinterest, one of the largest picture sharing social networks in the world. The other investors in this deal were some existing investors namely, Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, among a number of investment ‘angels’. That investment significantly increased Pinterest’s presence in Japan and a number of other global markets. In June, Rakuten bought Wuaki.tv one of the largest video on demand services in Europe and the market leader in Spain. It opened new opportunities, directly challenging Amazon, Netflix and others for domination of the global VOD market. Rakuten also bought Aquafadas, one of the then leading French digital publishing and technology companies in October. By late 2012, Rakuten had also moved into online retail in Austria, Canada, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand and into the online travel markets in France, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan.

2013 was another great year for Rakuten when they acquired citzen-commerce site Daily Gourmet, U.S.-based logistics and services company Webgistix, and Singapore-based company Viki. The following year, they acquired  Viber for $900 million,  launched a new scheme for US-based e-tailers, acquired UK-based technology company DC Storm, purchased e-commerce app Slice, and they also acquired major rebates website Ebates for $1billion.

Today in its group, Rakuten Inc has approximately forty companies in a variety of different industries including online retail, banking/credit/payments, media, travel, securities, professional sports and entertainment. The incorporated company continues to grow with each passing year. As CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, leads his company into new markets and industries, we’re excited to see what comes next from the English business model of Rakuten.

The Corporate World of French Department Stores

The streets of France are a constant fashion show. It is no wonder, then, that big corporate department stores have a cultural importance that can’t be denied, and that it is them who lead the huge sales the country has every winter and summer. If you are looking for some retail therapy while on your trip to France, then a trip to the following department stores is an absolute must! Or check out the valuable tip below on finding just about all your shopping needs on-line, and best of all, everything in the English language.

Galeries Lafayette

First opened in 1894, the successful department store has become one of the biggest and most well-known stores in the world. The beauty of its building, combined with its great prices has made it into the second most visited landmark in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. The Galleries now have stores in five countries, and 63 French cities.


Opened in the mid-19th century, the store has often been called the most elegant in Paris. Its luxurious Art Nouveau style, its ingenious marketing strategies, and the high-quality of its product are the reasons for its success. Today, it receives millions of visitors per year, and it is considered an emblematic symbol of French fashion.

Le Bon Marché

This store has made shopping the way we know it today. It was the first to create the idea of shopping for fun, fixed prices, and money back guarantees. The store also began to standardize clothing size, made fashion available to working classes, and revolutionized the world of clothing stores by creating the idea of the department store as a haven for its shoppers.

Amazon France

For those who like to shop with the comfort of their home (or hotel of that matter), a viable option well known on a global scale is the French Amazon on-line department store, located at the address Amazon.fr. While the above stores might be historically significant and carry the best, as well as most interesting luxury goods. Here you can get just about anything and with often enough decent prices, also you would probably like to know that home delivery is free and extremely fast for most purchases. Another factor to take into consideration is the ability to deal without the constrains of the French language, simply see this guide for the French Amazon in English for an in depth look to the process of shopping there.

French Regards,
Judie Clay

Chinese Business Show Career at Golden Mask Dynasty

I have never been into advertising, and also this time I will not fall into the category of plain promotion. But sometimes I have been so impressed on how companies, or corporations such as the Golden Mask Dynasty handle the situation and create mutual benefit within the world. As many of you may know, I have been venturing around China looking for business opportunities that are classified as “alternative’, or “different”. Even I don’t always know what I am looking for, for all I know is that China is filled with huge business opportunities that can be used with great care or abused. I for one, is a firm believer of mutual benefit where all parties work together with equal opportunities. Incredibly so, right in the heart of China, there are many businesses which dare to confront the conventional hirarchy structure of business. This is done with very unconvential and inspirational methods, of which I am following closely just to look for even more benefit within the wide landscape of world business, as well as trade.

Golden Mask Dynasty Show Beijing

As mom, and someone who has climbed up and down the corporate ladder, I have lost hope on many businesses within this world. But this doesn’t mean that I would be pessimistic in anyway, it just means that realities must be felt and dealt with. I can only thank all the opportunities to meet with great minds in China and my latest, greatest meeting with the OCT Theatre managers was a very fruitful event indeed.

They are the producers of the huge success and theatrical performance well known as “Golden Mask Dynasty Show” in the capital Beijing. Chinese theatre has been always close at heart, which has created a natural pull to collaborate with these events and venues of all sizes, and kinds. I have seen how the administrators and managers come from all walks of life. China is a very colorful, and multi-colorful place where high positioned entities are not afraid to show their real skin.

But what amazes me is the pure power to go on and improve day by day. Already having achieved an acclaimed status is never enough and the actors are put into extreme pressure at times. Where western such theatre companies would say enough, the Chinese go forward with huge strength. The key has nothing to do with endurance, it’s all about pride, dignity and unity. Perhaps the most important being the latter, where these hard working members of the show are more than glad to be together in a fighting team. Now they are looking for more people to collaborate with, and I encourage our readers to get in touch for them. Many, many business opportunites are being created in Beijing and this one tops them all. At least so far!

Best Regards & Nihao!
Judie “Mari” Clay.

Practical Tips for Balancing Careers and Family Life

Being both a parent and career professional is undoubtedly difficult at times. You feel as if you’re being pulled in two directions. However, by defining your priorities and thinking outside of the box, you can often achieve a nice balance of both.

Define Your Priorities


The type of work that you do, how long you’re willing to work, your future career goals, what instances will require you to be with your family instead of work, etc. play important roles in determining your professional and family priorities. For example, you may be shooting for a promotion in the next year at work. In the meantime, you know that means you will have to pay for sitters to work late, that you might miss a gymnastics practice once a week, and that you may not be home to cook dinner every night. Sacrificing now would mean that you have the option to work from home two days a week with the promotion and that you would get a raise.

Get Creative


Consider presenting a plan to your boss that allows you to work from home or to work four days a week. Maybe you can go back to school to train for a job with more flexibility. Start your own business so you can set your own schedule. Work from home part-time after doing some serious number crunching on your budget if you feel you aren’t at home enough. Ask for a transfer to a facility in your company closer to home to reduce commute time.

Remain Flexible


Even though you may be a teacher who refuses to stay at work past 4:00 p.m. so you are the one to pick your child up from day care every day, there may be times when you need to stay late for a school event. Maybe you need time to catch up on grading or to redecorate your room. Don’t get so caught up in your desire to be at home that you neglect the needs of your coworkers, clients, students, etc. You do need to know how to say no if you are getting overwhelmed. However, saying yes once in a while will help create a positive work environment.

Let us know what are your practical tips for balancing work and family in the comments. Thank you!

Best Regards,
Judie Clay

New Donation Web Project Looking for Hostnine Alternatives

A career mom as myself had no problems learning how to blog and do simple things as install themes and plugins on WordPress. However sometimes the nerdy stuff is just too much and I need some help from my dear colleagues. We are now thinking of starting a bigger project, with a global setting in mind. While not starting a new career here, we simply found the most amazing team to get together and do something with passion. That is, to help people are to gather donations from different parts of the world. It’s interesting to think, how the internet revolutionised the “donation business”. And I say business because that is what is always is. There has to be people from profit from it, to not think in that way is simply denial.

But, we have another approach to this. We welcome the business side of it and give that business to those who are indeed. We want to create an organisation, that will not only be for the benefit of the most unfortunate but also, something that will help the locals themselves to build a business on. This will ultimately promote self sustainability and lessen the negative side effects of creating donation dependent nations.

We need websites, for different parts of the world and many of them. And while my understanding of the technical problems for spreading such information all over the internet. There were many, that were recommending Hostnine as a web hosting company to accomodate different locations around the world. However, we were not very happy with the customer service as we approached them with our numerous questions. Afterall, we are looking for a company that we can become lifetime parters with. Preferably a host that can support our donation efforts and give us a good price and special service. Something not easy to find, especially when looking for multiple locations!

But luckily one particular post of Hostnine alternatives came to the resque. We have been studying the information and concluded that Reseller Club will provide the best deal for all our global hosting problems. They even have a server in India, which is one of our prime targets for this project. One of the reasons why I brought up the web hosting issue, is that I wanted to ask for your comments and experience. We are still thinking about the final settlement, while our web design team is working hard on bringing this project to light as soon as humanly possible.

Also I am curious about the issue of multiple IP hosting, if that is something relevant or what we should consider for the donation web sites. All I can say, that a lot of the project is still very secret but already we have come very far so I am able to talk this much about it. I’m confident that it will be successfull even without our initial plans to partner together with the Hostnine team.

We are here to help, in an authentic way. So please, anyone who is reading this help us too to help each other. We need less dependence and more sustainability for this world to become a better place, as soon as possible!

Thank you!

Your Career Mom

Traveling Mom & Family Acrobatics From London to Shanghai

Often I think of being a mom like acrobatics. While not just career driven, it takes a lot of tricks and skill to achive a successful upbringing. Just recently I was listening to the song “I think to myself what a wonderful world”, I believe by Louis Armstrong. I don’t actually know if it’s originally written by him or not but anyway it’s a beautiful song. Looking back at all the incredible acrobatics I have done in order to raise up my children whom are in their teens already and one of them well into adult life as well. This song makes me think of even the difficult times, with happiness and everything positive, sweet and so on.

How often is it, that you spend a good time back, reflecting all the times you have. Including the incredible. Like our family trip to London, England for example. Which ended up in a years stay, in the beautiful countryside. That was a funny move, but our family loved it. As a career driven mom, it hasn’t bothered my children that we’ve traveled a lot. In stead it’s been embraced as an opportunity to learn about the world, about culture and just about everything in between and bit on the side as well. London is a great place which we have visited often ever since.

Circus World Shanghai

The other trip that has had a profound impact on the lives of my family is China. Working in Shanghai was one of the biggest challenges in my life and for the whole family. Indeed, this were some of the biggest acrobatics skills I have had to face. Much like the Shanghai Circus World which is a performance as incredible as the one the has been performed in our family on a daily basis. Sometimes when we went to see the show, not only did we see ourselves in it, but it made us feel good knowing that there were other people that were trying just as hard. In fact, not just trying but making it in the end as well. There is always hope, no matter what. That’s what we learned back then, and we thank all of China and the people of this proud country for that.

Of course, a lot of us expats travel there driven by the corporate America. But a vast majority of us, come back with a positive message, a message of happiness. Indeed, Chinese are the best in being happy with little. I admit that I was very busy during those times, so the very rare visits to the Circus World were one of those things that connected us while living in Shanghai.

Acrobatic Show Shanghai

Interestingly the show is called “ERA” -Intersection of Time which further resembles the “ERA” that I was living as a single mom. I always feel that I am in some intersection or other, but what is for sure is that time is much faster than before. Especially in Shanghai where everything is growing and developing at huge speed! But on the positive side, the fight is ever stronger on the non-corporation side of life and all kinds of small businesses are blooming. In fact, the Shanghai Circus World was just originally just one of those small time businesses with a tremendous success story. And I believe, that there are many more such beautiful stories to come.



A Reflection From Beijing

Previously I gave my insight in my blog, about how the east is becoming stronger than the west. And how the acrobatic beijing is such a good example of money streaming outwords from the west and inwords to the east. Now with Chaoyang Theatre going stronger with three massive spectacles, per day.. we can see however that there is some unbalance in the works. Tourism is a good way to examine the wealth of the population, because only those who have extra to spend, travel. And tourism has it’s ups and downs according to the western economic situation. Acrobatics however, simirlarly makes your stomach go, up and down when watching the show.

Now the situation with tourism has significantly increased and the rest of the year seems more positive than the previous “not so positive” years. This is because the west and the east are dependant on each other. If money poors into the east, this is also benefitial to the western societies.

Instead of being scared, we should embrace this unbalanced influx. I think it shows us how in modern times, when we are becoming more and more dependant on each other. We need to think in ways that are more flexible, and give room for expantion, contraction.. between countries, within the country. The corporate model is no longer working for us, there needs to be more small players and the internet has revolutionized that all.

Why China kicks ass is that there, the small man has an opportunity like no other. The west dropped from that game when it went BIG and stopped supporting the foundations of the society. The “small man”. But no fear, the west is coming back and making room for more opportunities. They are just a little different and come in different shapes and forms. So it’s a good time to focus your direction on Beijing and see what good can we reflect to the west from that!

Even Toy Businesses Are Going Online

As we have seen a increased trend of businesses, going online for the past few years it hasn’t surprised at all. With building an online shop becoming easier and cheeper just about anyone can do it. However there are more borders to online shopping then the website and server it runs on. Despite these limits, they are being overcome too with increasing speed!

While buying clothes, shoes and accessories on the internet is common place already.. I was surprised to see children’s toys and games take over the business too. True, some of the toys being bought are brand toys that are already known. But according to the online shop retailer (and fellow career mom) “Emma Laine” from Finland, they have seen a huge increase in people doing “window shopping”, for toys.

Incredibly so, this means that children are doing toy shopping together with their parents on the computer. This is something remarkably different to normal shopping toy shopping behaviour. Such limits have been overcome with trust, both towards the customer and the online shop. While customers are able to return the goods easily and cost effectively, it is also considered by the store, that most customers are responsible enough not to make purchases without proper buying decision.

Business Going Strong in China

Many people see the growth of China and problems of growth.. however I see little talk about the internal problems Chinese people have inside the corporations. For one, I think there is often a fairly big problem with management within a company.

It’s like an air of confusion roams around a lot of chinese businesses. Unable to control things as a whole and grasp the managing part of it all. For this, nowadays a common help is recruiting foreigners to “keep things cool” so as to say.

Perhaps some have not noticed, but the only reason Chinese economy has been growing so rapidly is because of western colaboration. Yes, new “self sufficient” companies are emerging, and a lot of them in the country. Thanks to exchange students who come back to bring the trade of management amongst other skills. But nomatter how amazing companies there are nowadays, everything is totally dependent on this equation of bad Chinese management in colaboration with “good western”. What ever that is.

Food for thought. Dumplings for breakfast. –Judie

Comission a Way of Life in China

In the collective country of the peoples republic of China, there is a consensus that any benefit must be rewarded in one way or another. Knowing this rule, people tend to “get between things” in order to seek for that benefit. This notion has reached until the extent, that simply knowing about a business transaction might obligate the transactor to share a part of the profit.

This system is not all bad at all, at least compared to the western world. Similarly it attracts suspicious people who have no real interest in providing a real counterpart for the money. But that happens just about anywhere in the world.

You could think of it as “Chinese outsourcing”. One such interesting example is the Red Theatre in Beijing where most of the tickets to the show are sold by commission through different licensed travel agencies. This enables the theater to concentrate on what they do best, performing arts.

The turning point of this story is that while Chinese are considered greedy and money orientated. This actually shows unselfishness as such theaters or other venues, shops could actually get all this profit for themselves. The sense of sharing profit is actually quite astonishing and makes you think why the Chinese economy is painted black in western societies.

In my humble opinion, to put up an amazing show such as the one in red theatre without the greed of harvest all the possible profit and willingly sharing commission with everyone is rather impressive and admirable.