Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rakuten Acquires Buy.com - Great Things to Come

Full Disclosure: I am an employee of Buy.com 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 Buy.com 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 LinkShare.com 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 Buy.com. His goal is to be the #1 Internet services company in the world and Buy.com 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 Buy.com 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, Buy.com 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. Buy.com 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 Buy.com in every discussion of online commerce for years to come. I'm very much looking forward to being a part of that.
  • Innovation - Buy.com 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 Buy.com 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 Buy.com 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 Buy.com as big as we can dream it.


Just my 15%

16 comments:

Henrietta said...

Congratulations!

Randy Smythe said...

Thanks Henrietta!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Randy,

Any idea about rollouts in Europe and specially The Netherlands, most of the times the latest in line because it's such a small country.

Regards,
Hans

Hillary said...

Best of luck to you with the changes, Randy!

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

We don't have any timelines yet for Marketplace in our International markets but we should have a better idea soon.

Most likely you would need to sell on the UK, France or Germany sites to reach your Netherlands customers.

Randy Smythe said...

Thanks Hillary! I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Yes amazon is doing it the same way, have to sell via those 3 countries.
First they also asked for a local address , now you only need a Bank account in one of those countries, but that is still not very handy.
Much easier if the company just accept a international bankaccount instead of demanding a local one.
Anyway thanks for your answer and hope you will be blogging much more frequently :)

Regards,
Hans

Ginny said...

Randy, I thought of you when I heard this exciting and fascinating news! I don't know if this will affect us directly as online sellers or not but I feel sure that it will affect us indirectly.
Congratulations on being involved in this exciting new adventure!

Randy Smythe said...

Hans, I will see about the regular blogging. My posts are all about my opinion and I also like to dig into things, so I don't know how that will work when I work for a public company Rakuten.

Ginny, thanks for the good wishes. I believe this will be good for online merchants.

ms.pat said...

Hi Randy - good to see you posting again. I am keeping good thoughts that this may be the start of real competition to the two major companies here in the US. I have one disappointment though. I went to their site and I do not see an arts category. How do I reach your new boss to suggest he put one on his site? There are thousands upon thousands of artists on Ebay who would jump at the chance to work for a good company and to have some exposure for their fees. I read the announcement by Rakuten and they state "we empower our merchants"!!!! Maybe there's hope???

Randy Smythe said...

Hi Pat,

I think good things are in store. We probably won't know exactly what until the deal closes but I am excited.

ms.pat said...

Randy - the very idea that the announcement of Rakuten on their Buy.com buy pleased me no end even if nothing comes out of it for us small sellers - it must have been quite a kick in the gut to old JD - last year Zappo - this year buy.com. :-)

I looked at Rakuten - they're definitely not set up for US sales - most of the pages are just in japanese and they tell you to use one of the online translators...huh? If I see them setting up a site in english then I'll know they're throwing their hat in the ring.

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