Kobo Parent Rakuten Takes Big Step Into U.S. Market With $1 Billion Acquisition of Ebates

Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retailer, is attacking its worldwide rival Amazon on the Seattle-based company’s home turf.

Rakuten has acquired Ebates, the largest “cash-back” shopping website in North America, according to a press release (below).

In Canada, Japan, the U.S. and countries around the world, Rakuten and Amazon battle for control of the ebook market. While in Canada, Rakuten’s Kobo is thought to be the ebook market-share leader, Amazon’s Kindle is thought to be larger elsewhere in the world.

[Press Release]
Rakuten to Acquire Ebates for $1 Billion

Rakuten, Inc. (4755:TOKYO) today announced that it has agreed to acquire Ebates Inc. (hereinafter “Ebates”), provider of the largest cash-back shopping web site in North America. The Company will acquire Ebates for a total consideration of $1 billion in cash, and will hold 100% of Ebates outstanding voting stock.

Rakuten is the global pioneer of the B2B2C marketplace shopping model, which aims to empower merchants and deliver the world’s most engaging shopping experience. Rakuten also offers one of the most successful loyalty programs on the Web with Rakuten Super Points. Similarly, Ebates is the pioneer and leader in online cash back shopping, which rewards shoppers with cash back on purchases while also providing access to thousands of coupons, discounts, promotions and special deals, including free shipping, at over 2,600 retailers. In 2013, members spent over $2.2 billion shopping through Ebates. Together, Rakuten and Ebates will be able to offer its members the most empowering—and rewarding—shopping experience available anywhere.

“The combination of Rakuten and Ebates is entirely unique and will revolutionize e-commerce,” commented Rakuten, Inc. founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. “This is all about the consumer and we are excited to be able to empower our members with even more ways to enjoy shopping on Rakuten and Ebates. Combined, Rakuten and Ebates will be able to offer our members access to what will undoubtedly be the world’s largest selection of products across the broadest range of categories. It will also give our members the greatest incentives to keep shopping.”

Ebates CEO, Kevin Johnson, added, “Rakuten and Ebates have a unified vision of empowerment: empower our members with the best loyalty incentives possible; and empower our merchant partners by providing them with the tools and know-how they need to succeed at e-commerce. Joining forces with Rakuten will help accelerate our US and international growth and provide deeper and richer shopping experiences for our members.”

Rakuten believes that the combination of the two companies will help create the world’s most attractive and innovative membership-based, loyalty-driven marketplace for consumers.

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world’s leading Internet service companies. We provide a variety of products and services for consumers and businesses, with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 11,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. For more information: http://global.rakuten.com/corp/.

About Ebates.com
Ebates.com rewards consumers with cash back on purchases while also providing access to thousands of coupons, discounts, promotions and special deals, including free shipping, at over 2,600 retailers. Free membership allows consumers to shop online at their favorite retailers while earning a percentage of every purchase they make, paid quarterly in the form of a “Big Fat Check” or through PayPal. From niceties to necessities, members of Ebates benefit from incentives at top-name merchants for everything from furniture to fashion and appliances to airfare. Because shopping with Ebates is hassle-free – no rebate forms to fill out and no points or miles to redeem – the site supports a strong community of savvy shoppers across the country and around the world.

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