Rakuten Acquires Wuaki to Become the King of European VoD

Another acquisition has been made by the Japanese e-commerce and Internet giant Rakuten as part of their rapid expansion overseas in the last few years. After reinforcing its global presence through the acquisitions of online marketplaces Buy.com (US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda, Tradoria and Play.com (UK), the company announced its 100% acquisition of streaming and Video on Demand (VoD) service startup Wuaki.tv, earlier this month. Along with this acquisition comes more than 250,000 users and 40 employees.

The Tokyo-based company with Ozon.ru and AHA Life in its portfolio has unique business model. They empower their partnered merchants to deliver a Japanese high service mindset called “Omotenashi,” which facilitates the offerings of its 38,000 e-sellers to 73 million members in order to build long lasting relationships with customers and develop a powerful loyalty program.

Meanwhile, Wuaki is a Spanish company headquartered in Barcelona. Founded in 2009, it offers premium content over the Internet directly to Smart TVs. While the company may be considered a startup, it already holds content distribution agreements with major Hollywood studios and local studios. Wuaki has likewise secured partnership agreements with leading TV manufacturers to incorporate its technology into their television sets.

In a recent interview with IP&TV News, Wuaki co-founder and COO Josep Mitja stated that their focus this year is generating average revenues per user on services delivered to connected TV sets, which is twenty time higher than delivering it through co-founder and CEO Jacinto Roca adds that “[t]his agreement will allow us to expand the successful Wuaki.tv offering, both in terms of services and geographical reach.”

The deal is the fourth European acquisition made by Rakuten, currently one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue. This is the company’s first step in tapping into the Spanish market. The sums and terms are not disclosed, although this deal puts Rakuten head-to-head with Amazon, Netflix and Apple to become King of Voice-on-Demand in Europe and likely worldwide at the later stage.

In addition to that, this is just barely a month after inking the US$ 100 million deal with Pinterest, which involves several investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital and a number of angels. The alliance was intended to expand both markets in Spain and Rakuten’s 17 other global markets.