Tuesday, September 6, 2005


Congratulations to Stephen Messer! I interned for Stephen at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) during graduate school. I worked there part-time during the school year doing random projects for CITI. I remember when he was working on his company and preparing to leave CITI to devote his full-time to LinkShare. Pretty cool to see him succeed as he patiently built up his company over the past nine years.

Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LinkShare Corporation, a privately held New York-based performance-based marketing firm, for a cash purchase price of approximately $425 million. The acquisition is expected to be completed within four to six weeks.

Founded in 1997, Rakuten is Japan's most diversified Internet portal, with the number one sites in Japan for on-line shopping, travel, golf reservations, community and greeting cards. Rakuten's on-line and Internet-related businesses also include shopping via Internet-enabled cell phones, auctions, financial services, broadband entertainment and business-to-business services. Rakuten, which has one of the most recognized Internet brands in Japan, is also the owner of Japanese professional baseball's newest franchise, the Rakuten Eagles.

"LinkShare's performance-based marketing expertise across affiliate, search, and e-mail capabilities provides Rakuten with an excellent first step to launch our U.S. operations and continue our international expansion." said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten. "We can leverage LinkShare's client relationships and technology advantages worldwide, so that LinkShare will be able to achieve significant growth in the future."

Established in 1996, LinkShare Corporation is a leader in performance-based marketing solutions, having created the largest network of affiliates of any program provider, with over 10 million e-commerce relationships. LinkShare has over 500 clients including J.C. Penney, 1-800-Flowers.com, American Express, Avon Products and Dell. LinkShare has been named the New York area's fastest growing technology company for two years in a row on the Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 list.
(full press release)

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