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Rakuten acquires mobile commerce startup Curbside

Tokyo-headquartered Rakuten, Japan’s answer to Amazon, is acquiring the Silicon Valley mobile ordering and pickup startup Curbside, the companies announced today. Terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed, but Curbside had previously raised between $40 million and $50 million from investors including CVS, Index Ventures, Sutter Hull Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Chicago Ventures, and others. Founded in 2013 by former Apple engineers with backgrounds in location-based technology, Curbside was one of the early startups to capitalize on the idea that e-commerce’s expansion won’t entirely involve ship-to-home deliveries, but could also include the convenience of online ordering with a curbside pickup option at bricks-and-mortar retailers to speed things up. The company first launched its own mobile shopping app with a limited set of partners, including a shopping center in San Jose and a handful of San Francisco Bay area Target stores. The Target test wrapped up some time […]

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Walmart and Rakuten partner on grocery delivery in Japan, Kobo e-books and audiobooks in U.S.

Walmart today announced a major expansion in terms of its global e-commerce presence: the retailer is entering a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten, which will see the companies collaborating on the launch of a new online grocery service in Japan, and the sale of e-readers, audiobooks and e-books in the U.S., via Rakuten-owned Kobo. The strategic alliance is one that has two of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers joining forcing in an effort to combat Amazon, and is yet another example of how Walmart is using large-scale partnerships to aid in that battle. For example, Walmart last year teamed up with Google in order to have an entry point in the voice-assisted shopping space, by way of Google Home smart speakers – an area where Amazon’s Alexa has mopped up market share. In this new partnership, Walmart says it and Rakuten will co-create an online grocery service in Japan that […]

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Kobos Giant E-Reader May Put the Kindle in Its Place

In the annals of great underdogs, a Canadian subsidiary of a Japanese mega-retailer makes for an unlikely entrant. And yet heres Kobo, again, with a new e-reader that could give Kindle owners some serious second thoughts. The new Kobo Aura One is literally big, a 7.8-inch behemoth in a world of standard 6-inch displays. But its features are also outsized, whether its robust waterproofing, a clever new nighttime lighting system, or a way to help you read as many top-shelf books as you please without paying a cent. More importantly, theyre all enhancements you wont find on an Amazon Kindle. Kobo A-Gogo Its a rocky time for e-readers. Last month, the Association of American Publishers reported that while overall book revenue increased .6 percent in 2015 versus the year before, e-book revenue fell a precipitous 11.3 percent. Of Amazons extensive e-reader lineup, only two crack the companys top 100 sellers […]