Japanese e-commerce and services company Rakuten does not seem dragging its feet for European expansion. Just a couple of weeks after the acquisition of Cyprus-based messaging app Viber for $900 million, Rakuten today announced the opening of its first permanent European office, an R&D center, in Paris.
Rakuten Institute of Technology Paris is Rakuten’s second global R&D office in the world outside of Japan. Internet giant’s all research activities are mainly run via its Tokyo headquarters.
R.I.T. has 40 employees in Tokyo and a further 10 in New York. R.I.T.’s Paris office will start with five employees and, combined with Rakuten’s Big Data Group in Paris, will add a total of 20 new employees to the Paris office within 2014, official press release reads. The R.I.T. department is situated in the classical Haussmann building, alongside Rakuten’s PriceMinister office.
R.I.T. Paris will work on creative and innovative technologies to fuel growth of its e-commerce operations in Europe. The institute will commission projects on data analytics, fraud detection, language, recommendation systems, image processing, user interfaces, and the ‘online to offline’ transition in e-commerce.
Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, Rakuten Europe’s COO, and Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten’s CEO, are responsible for R.I.T.’s expansion into Europe. Laurent Ach, Director of the R.I.T. Paris said Rakuten’s business covers a wide variety of fields including logistics, digital media payments and of course e-commerce. He added,” Innovation is fundamental when it comes to improving these services, and we want to be the company anticipating future uses for these types of technology. The R.I.T. prides itself on bringing together the best creative thinkers to revolutionise internet retailing and digital business.”