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A missed opportunity: Rakuten purchased California-based shopping portal Buy.com back in 2010 for $250 million. Buy.com seemed like a great name for an online retail shop - it was short, easy to spell and difficult to forget. A dream domain to own, if you will. Yet in 2013, the Japanese conglomerate decided to ditch the branding in favor of the Rakuten name, which had virtually zero market awareness in the US at that time. Visiting Buy.com after the rebrand simply directed visitors to the main Rakuten website.
Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is shutting down its online retail store in the US, the company has confirmed to TechCrunch.
In late 2014, Rakuten bought online rebate site Ebates.com for $1 billion in cash, further bolstering its position in the US e-commerce space. The company was also an early adopter of Bitcoin, allowing shoppers to pay for purchases on Rakuten.com using the virtual currency from early 2015 on.
Per TechCrunch, Rakuten.com will remain operational for the next two months, allowing US shoppers to place orders at any point during that time. Once the clock runs out, however, the site will shut down for good, we're told, and the company's nearly 100 US employees will be out of a job.
An exact date for Rakuten's US site closure wasn't provided.
Update: Rakuten reached out after publication and issued the following clarification: "The U.S. Rakuten Marketplace is located at "Rakuten.com/shop" (to clarify, "Rakuten.com" is our Cash Back business – formerly Ebates - and is not shutting down)."