Rakuten Inc (TYO:4755) acquired Viber for $900 million last week and now they have opened an R&D office in Paris. This is the first Rakuten Institute of Technology (RIT) in Europe. Rakuten also has RIT centers in New York and Tokyo.
The goal of these centers is to bring the “next big thing in e-commerce to market.” Some of the past products that have launched out of RIT includes analytics trackers, recommendation engines, and ROMA, an open source replacement for e-commerce databases.
The Paris branch of the RIT is in the same building as PriceMinister, a company that Rakuten acquired for $250 million in 2010. RIT Paris will be staffed by five employees initially and will hit another 20 hires by the end of the year.
?The Paris team will be focusing on the links between bricks-and-mortar stores and online services in particular, as well as exploring new forms of digital interaction. Setting up our department alongside the Rakuten PriceMinister team should also present some opportunities for collaboration and we are looking forward to learning from them, ? stated Laurent Ach, who is heading up the RIT in Paris as its Director.