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Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has just announced a $100 million VC fund for global investment targeting startups in Israel, Asia Pacific, and the U.S.
Rakuten Ventures aims to empower startups beyond Japan and Southeast Asia and to improve Internet services, but it’s not an altruistic endeavor, this is about strengthening and expanding the parent company. The broader goal, according to the press release, is to “enable better user experience and facilitation. Over time, this will include an increased focus on growing the ecosystem, technology, membership, and financial returns.”
“More Asia-based VCs are venturing out into different regions to look at investment as long-term growth vehicles,” explained managing partner and fund advisor Saemin Ahn. “Since 2013, Rakuten Ventures has been one of such VCs to aggressively invest larger amounts into younger companies, to enable them to focus on product and service development.”
Mobile technology, ad technology, data, and payments are all on the radar as potential targets, Ahn told The Next Web.
Rakuten Ventures will operate out of Singapore, and this new capital builds on the $10 million Southeast Asia fund, launched last year, which led to investments in Carousell, Visenze, Coda Payments, and Send Anywhere.
Having already acquired Viber for $900 million earlier this year, Rakuten is clearly not afraid to spend big, and it’s showing a clear determination to diversify its holdings and challenge Amazon for the title of world’s biggest online retailer.