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Rakuten floats $100M fund to invest in early stage ventures in US, Israel & APAC

Rakuten_logoRakuten Ventures, the venture investment arm of Japanese e-commerce, finance and digital content firm Rakuten Inc., has launched a $100 million global investment fund that will invest in early stage technology ventures. While the fund's immediate focus will be Israel, APAC and the US, Rakuten is also planning to expand operations around the globe.

The fund's operations will be based out of Singapore, and Rakuten Ventures' managing partner Saemin Ahn will act as its fund advisor.

Rakuten said in a statement that the new global fund supports its broader goal of long-term investments in startups that have the technology and potential to enable better user experience and facilitation. Over time, this will include an increased focus on growing the ecosystem, technology, membership and financial returns.

"If you just look at the last couple of years, Waze and Viber (that we have invested in) are great examples of companies taking on massive issues like transportations and communications, breaking them down to their basics, and providing an engaging and sticky user experience that people have come to love and depend on. More Asia-based VCs are venturing out into different regions to look at investment as long-term growth vehicles," said Ahn.

Originally launched in 2013, Rakuten Ventures is an early-stage corporate VC fund that counts Carousell, Visenze, Coda Payments and Send Anywhere among its investment portfolio.

Founded in 1997, its parent Rakuten has over 11,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. The company currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. The firm has development centres in Beijing (China), San Francisco (the US) and Singapore.

Last week, the company opened a new development and operations centre in Bangalore in collaboration with US-based IT consulting firm PROLIM Global Corporation.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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