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Hiroshi Mikitani: Leading Rakuten in Japan’s E-Commerce Market

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Alex Rivera

Chief Editor at EduNow.me

Hiroshi Mikitani: Leading Rakuten in Japan’s E-Commerce Market

Hiroshi Mikitani is a self-made billionaire and leader of Rakuten, Japan’s largest Internet services company. The company has e-commerce, credit card, telecommunications and travel businesses among its offerings.

Mikitani has a global vision and believes that the company will become a household name worldwide. He has aggressively pursued international partnerships and acquisitions.

1. Innovative Leadership Style

Hiroshi Mikitani is one of the most innovative leaders in business today. His leadership style is focused on developing a strong team and encouraging individuality. He has also shown a commitment to sustainability, investing in renewable energy projects. Mikitani is a self-made entrepreneur who has established Rakuten in Japan, which is now one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms. He completed his undergraduate studies at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

In 1999, Mikitani launched a website called “Rakuten Ichiba” in Japan. The site offered a variety of products and services, including credit card loans, shopping online and in physical stores, streaming movies, and travel bookings. The site became a success, and by 2001 it had 320 merchants and 1,800 members.

As the company expanded, Mikitani pushed for a global expansion strategy. He has since made Rakuten a leader in services such as e-commerce, finance, messaging, telecommunications, and sports. In addition, the company has adopted a system that separates supervisory and management functions, and is working to improve its transparency.

Unlike many other Japanese companies, Mikitani has encouraged employees to think of themselves as global citizens. He has also introduced an English proficiency requirement in order to increase the number of employees with international knowledge and skills. In addition, he has been a major investor in sports and has helped build up the Rakuten Eagles baseball team in Japan.

As a result of these efforts, Rakuten has become one of the most innovative companies in the world. In recognition of this, the ESADE Prize awarded Mikitani this year honors his pioneering spirit and unique leadership style. He has paved the way for other entrepreneurs and businesses to achieve success in the global marketplace.

2. Global Vision

Hiroshi Mikitani’s global vision has helped him grow his company into one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, with a presence in several industries including mobile communications, banking, credit cards, e-readers (Rakuten owns Kobo), and online payments. Mikitani is also committed to sustainability, partnering with other companies to invest in renewable energy projects.

Mikitani’s determination to succeed has not gone unnoticed, earning him several awards and accolades, including being named one of Forbes’ Richest Men in Japan. His global vision and dedication to making a difference have also inspired many entrepreneurs around the world, serving as a model for those looking to break into the e-commerce market.

Rakuten has 90 percent market share in Japan when it comes to online shopping, and it’s expanding rapidly into other markets. Its new mobile network is competing with established competitors like SoftBank, KDDI and NTT DoCoMo in Japan’s already crowded smartphone market. It’s not easy to gain customers who are already locked into contracts with other providers, and it will take time for Rakuten to build up its subscriber base.

Neeley: In keeping with his global mindset, Mikitani introduced the policy of “Englishnization” at Rakuten, requiring all employees to use English at work. This has had both positive and negative effects, depending on how the policy is implemented. In general, it’s been very helpful for the company to be able to engage with people in other countries, but it’s also a challenge for employees who haven’t had much exposure to English before.

Mikitani’s commitment to sustainability has been demonstrated through his partnership with other companies, as well as his sponsorship of the Rakuten Eagles, a professional baseball team in Japan. He believes that sport is a great way to bring people together, and he hopes to expand his business into other sports as well.

3. Entrepreneurship

Mikitani’s entrepreneurial spirit has helped him lead Rakuten into a wide range of global services including e-commerce, fintech, travel, messaging, and telecommunications. It also includes its own social media app, Viber, which is currently the third most used messaging service in the world with over 1.2 billion active users worldwide.

Mikitani believes the key to success in the digital age is to provide a personalized experience for customers. That’s why he aims to create a platform where people can shop for the things they want at any time and place without having to leave their homes or offices. He also wants to make it easy for people to find the best products and deals.

In order to accomplish that goal, Mikitani has introduced a new way of doing business by encouraging his company’s employees to think of ways to develop the business and innovate. He says the key to innovation is not just to come up with new ideas, but also to have a good system to implement them. He also encourages his company to be open to failure, as he believes that it can provide valuable information and insights for the future.

Mikitani’s entrepreneurial spirit has not only led to the creation of one of Japan’s most formidable e-commerce platforms, but also to co-founding a professional baseball team in the country. He is also an active member of the political elite, advising the government on enhancing the country’s role in the global economy and maintaining several roles as a vocal advocate for affordable Internet access. In addition, Mikitani has made a number of significant investments in various companies and is the main global partner of FC Barcelona and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

4. Sustainability

Mikitani is not only a visionary in the global marketplace but also a committed environmentalist. He has made it a priority to ensure that Rakuten, which means optimism in Japanese, operates on a sustainable basis.

In 2010, he launched what he calls the “Englishnization” initiative, in which the company began to conduct business in English because he believes that the global marketplace demands speed and clarity. He also believes that fluency in English is a competitive advantage. To that end, when employees from various offices around the world log in for their weekly management meeting — on Thursday or Friday, depending on which side of the dateline they are — they do so in English.

Last year, Mikitani set a goal of purchasing enough renewable energy certificates to offset all of Rakuten’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions — those from boilers and vehicles — by 2023. In addition, he wants the company to be carbon neutral by that same date, meaning it will not only offset its own emissions but also those from its customers and suppliers, who will be buying goods on the Rakuten platform.

The challenge for Mikitani now is to convert these lofty ambitions into a profitable network. As he tells CNBC, he is hoping that lower capital costs will help, as well as a successful track record in other businesses. Those include the company’s credit cards, its Walmart partnership and its recent approval to operate as a mobile network operator. The goal, he says, is to offer a full lineup of services from e-commerce to content to networks. It is also an approach that could work in other markets, he adds.

5. Philanthropy

Mikitani is a philanthropist, investing in renewable energy and other projects that contribute to a greener future. He has also donated to humanitarian efforts around the world. His dedication to philanthropy has inspired many aspiring entrepreneurs.

As Rakuten expands beyond Japan, Mikitani is embracing a borderless e-commerce model that allows consumers to shop with any currency or platform they choose. He’ll lay out how he came to this realization and why he is leading Rakuten to operate in this way during his keynote presentation at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago in June.

While most businesses are still trying to figure out how to adapt to the new era of digital disruption, Mikitani has taken a different approach. He’s focused on building a company that is more than just an e-commerce site, but is a complete business ecosystem. He has created a number of innovative products, including an online banking service that provides more personalized services than traditional banks.

He has also made a name for himself by focusing on customer experience and building trust with his brand. To this end, he has implemented a no-nonsense policy that emphasizes direct communication and encourages employees to think like entrepreneurs. This culture of innovation and entrepreneurship has enabled Rakuten to create innovative products and services that have changed the online shopping experience for millions of customers worldwide.

Mikitani has even invested in sports, becoming the first-ever main global partner of FC Barcelona and a major jersey sponsor of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. He recently founded a sports investment group with former FC Barcelona star Gerard Pique and has signed a 25-year deal to manage the Davis Cup.

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