Japan's Rakuten bets big on drones for online shopping

This post was originally published on this site
Rakuten drone

Things are looking up for Japanese online shopping firm Rakuten. Literally.

The company kicked off 2017 by setting a world record for the longest drone delivery, flying a container of hot soup 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) to surfers on a beach.

CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani expects drones to revolutionize the delivery sector.

“The capacity in the skies above us is far greater than in the roads beneath our feet,” he wrote in a recent blog post.

Rakuten (RKUNF) this week teamed up with California-based AirMap to develop technology to manage drone traffic in Japan. They hope to allow drones to operate autonomously at low altitude.

Global rival Amazon is also making an aggressive push into drone deliveries.

Rakuten is tired of being known as Japan’s answer to the U.S. online shopping behemoth. With more than 14,000 employees and revenue last year of more than $6.8 billion (781.9 billion yen), it is pushing to become a tech giant on the scale of Google (GOOGL, Tech30) or Alibaba (BABA, Tech30).

Rakuten flying drone

Related: How to boost corporate Japan: Stop speaking Japanese

So committed is Mikitani to going global that he made English the official company language back in 2010.

The move shocked corporate Japan, sparking rare public criticism. One fellow CEO called the plan “stupid.”

Nearly seven years later, finance chief Yoshihisa Yamada boasts that Rakuten “is very open, dynamic and diverse.”

Making English the official language helped the company dispense with the honorifics and deference of Japanese. It also made it easier to hire foreigners, a big advantage given Japan’s aging population and shrinking labor pool.

The result is a culture that blends corporate Japanese traditions with a Silicon Valley mindset, said CFO Yamada.

Rakuten takes Japan’s “high quality, really customer-oriented service mind” and mixes it “with the Silicon Valley, little bit techie, dynamic culture,” he told CNNMoney.

Oh, and that executive who called Mikitani’s plan stupid? That was former Honda (HMC) CEO Takanobu Ito. A couple years ago, the automaker announced plans to switch its official language to English by 2020.

Related: There is a retail bubble — and it’s bursting

Rakuten is a household name in Japan, but remains relatively unknown elsewhere.

It spent $900 million buying messaging app Viber in 2014, and has also invested in startups such as Pinterest and Lyft. It’s planning a push into connected devices and artificial intelligence.

To boost its global standing, the company inked a multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona, one of Europe’s most successful football teams, late last year.

And it was one of many global tech firms who slammed President Trump’s travel ban back in January.

CEO Mikitani, who received his graduate degree from Harvard, posted a series of emotional tweets explaining his opposition to Trump’s original executive order on immigration.

“It is wrong as a human being to uniformally [sic] discriminate based on religion and nationality,” he continued.

In a blog post, Mikitani pledged to support Rakuten’s employees “regardless of their nationality or religion.”

Viber offered to provide free international calls from the U.S. to countries affected by the immigration ban.

Trump’s order originally barred citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days. Mikitani has not commented on Trump’s revised executive order, which exempts Iraq from the travel ban.

— Will Ripley and Melissa Hassett contributed to this report.

Be Sociable, Share!

Related Posts

 

MarketTamer is not an investment advisor and is not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Further, owners, employees, agents or representatives of MarketTamer are not acting as investment advisors and might not be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the Financial Industry Regulatory.


This company makes no representations or warranties concerning the products, practices or procedures of any company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email, and makes no representations or warranties concerning said company or entity’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, regulations promulgated by the SEC or the CFTC. The sender of this email may receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any products or services offered by a company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email. The recipient of this email assumes responsibility for conducting its own due diligence on the aforementioned company or entity and assumes full responsibility, and releases the sender from liability, for any purchase or order made from any company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email.


The content on any of MarketTamer websites, products or communication is for educational purposes only. Nothing in its products, services, or communications shall be construed as a solicitation and/or recommendation to buy or sell a security. Trading stocks, options and other securities involves risk. The risk of loss in trading securities can be substantial. The risk involved with trading stocks, options and other securities is not suitable for all investors. Prior to buying or selling an option, an investor must evaluate his/her own personal financial situation and consider all relevant risk factors. See: Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. The www.MarketTamer.com educational training program and software services are provided to improve financial understanding.


The information presented in this site is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Nothing in our research constitutes legal, accounting or tax advice or individually tailored investment advice. Our research is prepared for general circulation and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive or obtain access to it. Our research is based on sources that we believe to be reliable. However, we do not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of our research, the completeness, or correctness or make any guarantee or other promise as to any results that may be obtained from using our research. To the maximum extent permitted by law, neither we, any of our affiliates, nor any other person, shall have any liability whatsoever to any person for any loss or expense, whether direct, indirect, consequential, incidental or otherwise, arising from or relating in any way to any use of or reliance on our research or the information contained therein. Some discussions contain forward looking statements which are based on current expectations and differences can be expected. All of our research, including the estimates, opinions and information contained therein, reflects our judgment as of the publication or other dissemination date of the research and is subject to change without notice. Further, we expressly disclaim any responsibility to update such research. Investing involves substantial risk. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results, and a loss of original capital may occur. No one receiving or accessing our research should make any investment decision without first consulting his or her own personal financial advisor and conducting his or her own research and due diligence, including carefully reviewing any applicable prospectuses, press releases, reports and other public filings of the issuer of any securities being considered. None of the information presented should be construed as an offer to sell or buy any particular security. As always, use your best judgment when investing.