Japanese Rakuten Group is looking to hire about 1000 new employees in India in the next two years. The company, which already has around 2000 employees in India, opened a new office in Bengaluru today, which is its largest office outside of its home base in Japan. The office has a capacity for housing over 3000 employees, and will operate as a product, engineering and advanced research facility for the Rakuten Group, under its India arm, called Rakuten India.
“Rakuten India is our globalisation and innovation center for Rakuten Inc globally,” said Sunil Gopinath, CEO of Rakuten India. He added that the company should hit 3000 in the next two years, and may even go up to 3500 by using a hybrid work strategy. A majority of these hirings will be for technology talent. “All of our close to 2000 employees are working on various product and technology solutions for global businesses,” he added.
Globally, the Rakuten Group has interests in various areas, including e-commerce, mobile, telecom and more. The company’s B2B telecom services arm, called Rakuten Symphony, will also operate from this new office for now, but should get its own headquarters in India soon.
Rakuten Symphone gained global attention in the last two years, with Rakuten launching the world’s first Open Radio Access Network (ORAN)-based mobile network in Japan. ORAN is a comparatively newer way of building mobile networks, which allows interoperation with equipment from different telecom vendors. It is expected to be an integral part of India’s 5G rollouts in future too.
Gopinath didn’t comment on ORAN partnerships in India but said the company is “in discussions” with potential partners in the country.
That said, Gopinath said that for its expansion in India, Rakuten India is going to pursue a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) strategy. “Rakuten Inc is a highly profitable company. We are close to about $17 billion in revenue, of which almost 20% is operating profit” he said. “If I look at the businesses in the India market, startups or even large companies, not even a handful of companies are profitable. So, given what our DNA is, before we even hit B2C in some of these businesses, we’re trying out the B2B2C play,” he added.
In essence, Rakuten wants to provide B2B technology to partners, who in turn take products to consumers. Gopinath also said that the company will look to invest in companies where it finds “synergy”. Rakuten Capital, the venture arm for the Rakuten Group, led a $12 million Series A funding round in Bengaluru-based fintech startup Twid earlier this month.