Japan’s e-commerce pioneer, Hiroshi Mikitani, is assembling one of Asia’s most diverse Internet conglomerates. But can it succeed?
Subscriber content preview. or Sign In
If you’ve heard of Hiroshi Mikitani, it’s probably by the moniker he’s acquired over the years: Japan’s Jeff Bezos. It’s not hard to see why the 49-year-old CEO of Tokyo-based Rakuten is often compared to Amazon’s American founder. Mikitani pioneered online shopping in Japan just as Bezos did in the U.S. Like Amazon, Rakuten has become one of a small number of truly global e-commerce companies, with operations stretching from Brazil to France and Indonesia. Mikitani even has his own version of the Kindle—the e-readers produced by his Kobo unit.
But over the past two years, Mikitani has done everything to disprove the comparison, going on a global shopping spree that is transforming the empire overseen by Japan’s third richest billionaire.