Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Have a Little Hop in My Step!

Suddenly I feel invigorated; which is hard to do for a guy who is 50. The Rakuten acquisition of has me practically giddy.

Many of you know that I have been working for since January of 2009 and after joining the company, my blogging efforts nearly ceased. I became focused on my new job; growing the marketplace and to be completely honest... I have enjoyed every single minute it. was the absolutely perfect place for me (thanks Neel) but I was so focused on the new job I had lost any desire to write about it. Now, with this new chapter unfolding in my life, I am so excited I want to write about it too. is a great company and we have a great team here with lots of innovative ideas but ... isn't there always a but? We have limited resources. I've often dreamed of a day when with our near 6% conversion rate (that's huge for a website) would have the traffic of an eBay or an Amazon... we would literally take the world by storm.

In 45 days (when the deal closes) we will have access to the resources that I've dreamed of. Forget your old concept of as a male dominated, tech geeky, deals site. We are still going to be about deals but we will become so much more. When a marriage like this starts; the possibilities are endless.

Sure, many of you may say I'm putting the cart before the horse but think about this for a second:
  • Rakuten is the largest online retailer in Japan (Yes, larger than Amazon Japan). Japan is the second largest economy in the world behind the United States; unless you lump together every nation that is part of the European Union then they would be number 3.
  • Rakuten has recently expanded into other Asian markets. and our merchants now get access to these markets; not only access, but we will be the leader. The Asian markets are the toughest markets to crack for US companies.
  • eBay has tried for years to penetrate Japan and in one fell swoop, we are now the leader there ... well we are owned by the leader :)
  • is the 3rd largest general merchandise 3P marketplace in the US behind Amazon and eBay; a distant 3rd. Plenty of room for growth there.
  • The name will live on after this deal finalizes and more than just live on, it will grow to become a leader.
  • Our new owner says things like this: "We believe that we have a very different business model from Amazon and eBay. We empower the merchants" Check out my tagline at the top of the page. I should fit in very well here.
  • As Scot Wingo said in his post regarding the deal. "Speculation aside, what is clear is that a new $9.5b player is in town from Asia, they are willing to spend $250+$450m = $700m to get the pieces they need, and they clearly have their sights set on a US Ichiba-like marketplace as an alternative to eBay and Amazon."

    I get to be part of this new adventure with the great team we already have in place here at so I'm pumped.

Just my 15%

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rakuten Acquires - Great Things to Come

Full Disclosure: I am an employee of and this post is strictly my opinion and not an official statement from the company. You can get the official story here.

Wow! I woke up this morning to the news that had been acquired by Japanese ecommerce company Rakuten. I had heard the name Rakuten before, but knew very little about the company. I quickly did some research and found out they run Japan's largest ecommerce site,own here in the US and they also own a Japanese Pacific League Baseball team called the Rakuten Eagles. (I am a huge baseball fan, so this was exciting). You can imagine I was anxious to get into the office.

Once at the office there was lots of discussion about what this deal meant to us as employees and the company as a whole. I spent a good part of the morning scouring the Internet for information and returning congratulatory emails.... there were already a number of blog posts and articles about the deal and Scot Wingo posted his take on the deal. Apparently I was so busy working that my blogger radar must have been jammed ... I didn't pick up any signals that something like this was in the works.

Later in the day, we were able to meet our new owner Hiroshi Mikitani and hear his plans for His goal is to be the #1 Internet services company in the world and will be a major contributor to that goal.

So, after less than a day to absorb the news, here is my 15% on the deal:
  • This is a great opportunity for employees as we become part of a much larger company. With 6,000 employees worldwide and several business units, there will be numerous opportunities for promotion within the larger company.
  • Increased Resources - With the financial resources of a much larger company, can grow at a faster pace then we have to this point. That is a very good thing.
  • Marketplace Sellers - This is fantastic news for our current and future sellers. will continue to grow and that will bring added opportunities for them to grow their sales.
  • The Ecommerce Industry - I am hoping to hear the names Amazon, eBay and in every discussion of online commerce for years to come. I'm very much looking forward to being a part of that.
  • Innovation - has been able to grow a retail business, a marketplace and International expansion with 135 employees. Our employees can roll out innovative new applications at a furious pace... imagine what we can do with some resources.
  • Change in Culture - I think this has many employees the most anxious. Mostly because it is unknown what to expect. I'm not too worried about the culture. We will remain headquartered in Southern California and our current management team will remain in place.
  • I'm excited to be working for Hiroshi Mikitani because he is an entrepreneur that has succeeded by taking risks and he wants to win.
After reading this post, would you be surprised to hear that my title at is Merchant Evangelist? I have to tell you I am very positive about this deal and the growth that is coming and excited to be part of something even bigger than before I awoke this morning.

Update: Day 2

No, I'm not going to give you a daily update, but I thought I would update you on how the employees were reacting. Today was very much business as usual and there was a feeling among the employees that this deal was going to be a good thing for all of us. It is reassuring to know that we will remain in beautiful Southern California and that we can count on Rakuten to keep our executive team and give us the support to grow as big as we can dream it.

Just my 15%