Japanese E-Commence giant Rakuten has now officially completed their acquisition of Canadian based Kobo for $315 million dollars. 100% of the e-reader companies assets now belong to Rakuten and the future is uncertain for the future of their e-book store and e-book reader lineup. During the holiday season, Kobo saw record sales in terms of books and peddling devices such as the Kobo Vox and Kobo Touch.
I have been following Kobo since the company first launched its bookstore and started making its branded e-readers. The selling price really undervalued the company and I feel that if they would have waited a year, they would have made almost double the money. The only real benefit is the expansion into the Asian Market where e-readers have not really taken off into the mainstream like they have in North America. Kobo will continue to operate out of its Toronto, Ontario Canada headquarters, even though Rakuten is based out of Japan. Now that the deal is completed, it will be interesting to see whether the Kobo CEO and his management team will jump ship and start a new project. I have a feeling that Michael will stay in charge for the interim until he is replaced or chooses a successor, and then takes the upper echelon of the company and starts something new.
The acquisition by Rakuten, one of the world’s leading Internet service and e-commerce companies, provides Kobo with a strong growth opportunity to expand its footprint into new and expanding markets. The move comes as Kobo set new sales records this past holiday season:
· December 25th was Kobo’s best day ever for eBook downloads, with several ebooks downloaded every second by readers in over 150 countries
· Kobo saw a 10-fold increase in new customers compared to the company’s pre-holiday period
· Compared to last year’s holiday season, eGifting increased by 500%, eReader sales and eBook sales more than doubled
· More than 1 million new Kobo users were added in December alone
“During this holiday season, Kobo has demonstrated strong sales and continued leadership within the competitive eReading market; we are very excited to complete the acquisition of Kobo and look forward in supporting its global expansion,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten. Beyond Kobo’s established presence in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, the company also saw dramatic gains in the UK, France and Germany this holiday season.”
“While the transformation to digital reading is well underway, it is still in its infancy. As a part of Rakuten, we will accelerate our growth internationally, bringing new products, a leading eReading experience and a world class catalogue to passionate readers everywhere,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo Inc.
Kobo was founded in 2009 as a contender in the global eReading market. Since its inception, the company has become a fierce competitor in the marketplace with its family of innovative eReaders, global ebookstore, industry-leading social platform and a wide range of free eReading apps for smartphones, tablets, netbooks and desktop computers.
About Kobo Inc.
Kobo is a global eReading service with more than 2.5 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers – one of the largest eReading catalogues in the world. As part of its “Read Freely” philosophy, Kobo believes consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device and has attracted millions of readers from over 100 countries across the globe. Kobo has top-ranked eReading applications for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows and MacOS, and is the eReading application of choice for leading tablet OEMs. Kobo eReaders, including the Kobo Touch and the newly launched Kobo Vox are available at leading retailers, including Indigo, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Future Shop, WHSmith, FNAC, Collins Booksellers and Whitcoull’s. Kobo’s innovative Reading Life is an industry-first comprehensive social eReading experience where Kobo users can earn awards simply for time spent reading and encouraging others. For more information on Kobo, and to download free eReading apps, visit www.kobo.com.
Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ:4755), is one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer- and business-focused services including e-commerce, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit http://global.rakuten.com/group.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.