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June 17, 2010

Rakuten (buy.com) makes second large acquisition in less than 30 days!

Priceminister
On May 20th, we reported on Rakuten's acquisition of buy.com in detail here. Today, the EU e-commerce world is abuzz with this report that I haven't seen discussed at all in the US yet that Rakuten has acquired PriceMinister for a whopping EUR200m (approx $250m US).  FYI - PriceMinister is a fixed-price third-party marketplace with a cart with the bulk of it's traction in France, but ambitions to grow to be pan-European.

Rakuten is clearly serious

This does nothing but solidify my view that Rakuten is gunning for eBay and Amazon in a major and global way and now has put down major flags in the US, EU and China.

What's next?  Well, if we assume Rakuten is going to continue this rapid expansion, some interesting options come to mind:

  • Mercado Libre (NASDQA:MELI) - Valued at over 2.5B, probably out of Rakuten's reach, but if you want to be in Latin america, this is the way to go. eBay owns ~20%, but for some reason has never pulled the trigger on getting these guys in the fold.  It would be strategically very bad for eBay if this rug was yanked out from under them.
  • CSE shopping-fest - The industry is full of rumors that various CSEs are for sale by their acquiring entities.  In the US, shopzilla (Scrips owns), smarter.com/pricerunner (Valueclick owns), and NextTag/PriceGrabber (PE firms own).  In the EU, Y! sold Kelkoo to Jam
  • Smaller US marketplaces - Bonanzle has a rabid following as does Etsy - these would be interesting feather's in Rakuten's cap - not needle movers, but definitely would be interesting as part of a 'global network of marketplaces' play.
  • Other geographies - Russia, Singapore, Korea, etc. are all areas they could plant the next flag.

Anything I missed?  Sound off in comments.

SeekingAlpha disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon, eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor.

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