Rakuten Buys Overdrive!

ReadYou may have seen this news by now, but what is unclear is what does this really mean?

Lets consider the scale and reach of Rakuten Inc., one of the world’s largest Internet services companies. Rakuten has been on a buying spree in recent years to reduce reliance on its home market in Japan and push into the U.S. and other countries.

  • In October 2014 it bought U.S. discount store Ebates.com for about $1 billion.
  • Rakuten bought Kobo Inc, a Canadian eBook company in 2011 for $315 million, in “phase 1” of its eBook business as it allows consumers to buy eBooks.
  • Chat and calling app Viber is another of Rakuten’s most prominent acquisitions; bought for $900 million in 2014.
  • And now, of most interest to Minnesota libraries, Rakuten is purchasing  OverDrive from Insight Venture Partners for $410 million and as part of “phase 2” of its eBook business. The acquisition of OverDrive, which currently offers eBook rental services to U.S. libraries and schools, is expected to be completed in April.
  • Since 2012, Rakuten (http://global.rakuten.com) has been ranked among the world’s “Top 20 Most Innovative Companies” in Forbes magazine.
  • Going forward, Kobo and OverDrive will work together to enhance their abilities to deliver world-class digital content and reading technology services.
  •  Rakuten is also an investor in Pinterest and ride sharing service Lyft. There are many, many more companies Rakuten has acquired recently. Read the full post here.

It is unclear at this time what this acquisition will mean to Minnesota libraries and in some cases, schools too. Will current Overdrive contract terms stay the same? Stay tuned for the constantly evolving world of eBooks!

Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/lw8nkjr, licensed under CC BY 2.0