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Rakuten Reviews

Updated August 10, 2017
415 reviews

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Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani
Hiroshi Mikitani
209 Ratings

415 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (3)

    "Rakuten"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Rakuten full-time

    Pros

    Autonomy, friendly co-workers, good work-life balance

    Cons

    HR is a disaster and company is too big and uncoordinated at the moment

    Advice to Management

    Stop acquiring new companies every five minutes and consolidate what you have


  2. Helpful (45)

    "Black hole for your career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Business Development in San Mateo, CA
    Former Employee - Business Development in San Mateo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Rakuten full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    There seems to be serious commitment (in terms of both declared strategy and actual deployment of resources) to growing the brand outside of Japan. If you like being a part of that sort of thing, the energy is there, at least for now.

    The CEO is very visible. Whatever you think of him, a visible CEO is better than the kind who never shows his face on the business floor.

    If you have any interest in anthropology or corporate ethnography, the exposure to the Japanese management culture can be informative, and help you understand the relative rhyme and reason of American corporate orders more objectively. Even the US office is full of Japanese expats and other international employees, so you’ll get the lessons of an international/cross-cultural experience.

    If you want to hide, you can hide at Rakuten. You could go on cruise control for 10 years and no one would notice or care. It’s a relatively low-competition environment, so if you’re a minor-league player who wants to feel like a star, Rakuten could be the place to do that.

    Catered (convenient, tasty, moderately healthy) breakfast and lunch every day; dinner available if you have to work past 7pm.

    They recently implemented a great maternity/paternity leave policy (four months I think?), a new “rewards” system to celebrate employee tenure (in the US office), etc. They do employee events and stuff to make it fun and social. The mid-level corp comms and HR people are mostly American (in the US office), and you can tell they try hard to make it a positive environment. They are doing the best they can given the constraints they face from the executive level.

    Cons

    CEO’s attitude and influence is the engine of the whole company, and unfortunately he is a narcissist, a bully, and a buffoon. He marches around with a “support staff” of yes-men who he openly treats like servants. Every week he gives a “speech” in front of the whole company (mandatory attendance unless you have express permission from your manager to miss it) in which he just parrots the latest Silicon Valley jargon (“We need to focus on innovation,” "Artificial intelligence is going to change our industry," etc). Presents himself as a visionary leader but is obviously only imitating industry trends. He constantly name-drops his “friends” (tech celebrities from more prestigious companies, pop stars, etc). It’s embarrassing, like watching a very rich and clueless child. He has publicly disapproved of Donald Trump’s politics, but he is comparable to Trump in character and behavior. Imagine working for a Japanese Trump; that’s about what it feels like to work at Rakuten.

    Increasing Japanese influence on the US work environment, both in terms of policies and in terms of the ratio of Japanese expat employees to American employees. Makes it clear that the Japanese run this ship, and the Americans just work here. There is a massive culture gap between the Japanese and everyone else, and it seems to be widening rather than narrowing. Even in the US office, the most influential executives are Japanese, and speak Japanese among themselves in the office. It creates a feeling of alienation and the sense that the real decisions are made behind a culture barrier without much respect for what’s on the non-Japanese side of it.

    Salary is below market. I joined after being laid-off from another firm, so I felt vulnerable and desperate at the time. In retrospect, I should have held out for something better. The income I might have lost by waiting for another offer is minimal compared to what I lost by working at a below-market salary for two years.

    No career-pathing to speak of. None. Zero. No formal system or structure to help employees progress, and individual managers have no incentives to develop junior employees, or even the tools to do so should they wish to at their own initiatives. You could have the same job at Rakuten for 10 years; it’s not a ladder, it’s a hamster wheel.

    Just bewilderingly disorganized for a company of its size. A hundred layers of process and approval for the simplest projects. Takes forever to get anything done, ten people to do one person’s job, etc.

    There are countless meetings where ten people will fill up a conference room and dial-in from three offices across a dozen time zones just to listen to one person read bullet points off a power point screen for 30 minutes. No discussion, no problem solving, no decision making--just brain damage all around. If you have the temerity to ask “What is the purpose of this meeting?” they look at you like you’re breaking some kind of rule and tell you that “information sharing is very important.” Ever heard of email, you muppets??? I’m in my 30s so too young to have experienced office culture in the 1990s, but I imagine Rakuten is probably a good approximation. You could just go watch the movie Office Space, or you could work at Rakuten. One is a comedy, the other is your life.

    I came into Rakuten from another large e-commerce company, one that I would describe as a well-run, professionally managed, first-rate corporate organization. (Not the most prestigious brand in Silicon Valley these days, mind you, but on the inside it was still a first-rate place.) The contrast between that experience and Rakuten shocked me. In comparison, Rakuten is a clumsy, amateurish, third-rate organization. Don’t let the size and global reach of the company fool you. On the inside, it is amateur hour.

    I came in with lots of energy and enthusiasm, expecting to grow my skills and contribute to an industry-leading program. It looked great on paper. In reality it felt like I had gone back to high school. I was seriously worried that my business skills would actually atrophy at Rakuten due to the general ineptitude and outdated business culture that forms the infrastructure of the company. Luckily I was in an external-facing role, so I was able to keep up my chops by interfacing with outside firms, otherwise I probably would have come out less skilled than when I went in. It’s like an anti-MBA, just cramming your head full of redundant processes and dysfunctional practices.

    The frustration level in trying to get anything done is off the charts. Rakuten is the most sluggish, backwards, illogical, outdated, frustrating business environment I have ever been exposed to. And that’s speaking from a biz dev perspective where I regularly engaged with other firms and their managers as part of my work. Every firm has its quirks, and some are more/less effective than others, of course, but God, Rakuten is just a mess. It was embarrassing to have to share some of our practices with potential business partners when scoping joint projects. They would just look at me across the table in disbelief/frustration. I was actually told sarcastically by a channel partner, "Congratulations on having the most complicated pricing structure of any marketplace worldwide." You could replace "pricing structure" with just about any element of our company and the sentence holds true. So many questions to which there is no answer other than "That's the way we do it at Rakuten." So many instances of "Why couldn't we just..." to which the executive answer is always "No," without any explanation or rationale. Utter lack of flexibility in problem solving or decision making, it's like they froze everybody's brain in 1995, hired ten thousand lawyers and accountants to make sure it stayed that way, and asked Franz Kafka to consult on the whole deal just to make 100% sure everything stayed as rigid and opaque as possible.

    Toward the end all of the above really started to affect my overall mood and psychological condition. I felt like I had taken a step down in life. I saw so much grinding stupidity at Rakuten that I just got depressed. I thought I would never get away from it. It became difficult for me to get another job, partly because it was hard to advertise myself as successful when I was immersed in an unsuccessful environment. (How can you explain that everything you’ve tried to initiate for the past two years has been stymied by bureaucracy and Japanese executives who make decisions from 6000 miles away about markets they don’t understand and clients they can barely communicate with?) I really thought for a while that Rakuten had ruined my career. When I finally got a solid offer to leave, I almost cried with joy and relief, and my self-esteem shot up about 1000%. How’s that for a KPI?

    Advice to Management

    One of the most eye-opening things I heard at Rakuten was when a Japanese colleague, who had joined the company mid-career from another firm, confessed to me over a drink that, “this is not management.” (Meaning that the type of management practiced at Rakuten was not even worthy of the term, compared to the firm he came from.) For American employees to feel repelled by the company’s management culture is one thing, but when even the Japanese can recognize that management at Rakuten is a joke, you know something is seriously wrong. The whole place is run like the mafia, with the CEO as the Don. He pushes the neanderthal culture down through the whole company. Short of the board replacing the CEO, I don’t think there’s much that can be done to change things.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Japanese company with Japanese business culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Rakuten full-time

    Pros

    Direct supervisor very engaged in my personal development.
    Food catered twice a week.

    Cons

    A lot of turn over.
    No clear strategic direction aligning the full marketing team.


  4. Helpful (6)

    "Sad but true"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Rakuten full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Start up feeling in a big company

    Cons

    No idea how to run a company outside of Japan.

    Advice to Management

    Hang on to ur most valuable assets, the employees rather than alienating them.


  5. Helpful (3)

    "Still a Japanese company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Rakuten full-time

    Pros

    Japanese language is not required
    Official language in the company is English (claim)
    Upbeat culture compared to other Japanese companies as it is trying to imitate US tech company

    Cons

    Still many employees can't speak English
    Bureaucracy is a problem in the company (in all Japanese companies I guess)
    Too many policies/rules/burden hence impede the productivity

    Advice to Management

    If you try to be like a US company, try to learn their whole system, instead of being a hybrid of Japanese and American company. The management should make decisions and get things done faster as the world is moving fast nowadays.


  6. "great perks, lack of direction"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Rakuten full-time

    Pros

    free breakfast and lunch, access to gym and free shuttle service from east and south bay.

    Cons

    lack of direction from all departments. doesn't seem like a growing company especially with amazon dominating the e-commerce industry.


  7. Helpful (11)

    "If you sincerely hate yourself, then this is the job for you."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Rakuten full-time

    Pros

    Great co-workers
    Pay is decent
    The MANAGER is pretty awesome

    Cons

    This is by two former employees.
    -Management by fear, always letting us know that we are replaceable.
    -No structure as far as "Management" goes
    - Wait, who do we report to?
    -Favoritism, Favoritism,Favoritism!!!!!!! Because hiring family is TOTALLY in line with company policy *eye roll*
    -S.O.P is not followed by any means.
    -Corporate complains about certain things not getting done, comes in to do said tasks, and makes things 500% worse....then blames other people for said things being 500% worse...and the circle of life continues.
    -Management other than the manager belittles you, is never clear with their intent or goals, walks all over you and makes it public.
    -they take in any temp off the street. ANY. TEMP. From thieves to thugs to cracked out fiends and all the seedy ilk they can find.
    -Corporate watches you from the cameras above like some freakish God-like entity. HALF OF WHICH DON'T WORK. which helps those I talked about previously to loot the place blind.
    -USELESS MONTHLY MEETINGS WHERE HALF THE STAFF FALLS ASLEEP!
    -Promises of bonuses but only if you meet some unruly standard.
    -working 14 to 28 days straight without so much as a thank you.
    -A goddamn OSHA nightmare that would get any other warehouse shut down in a seconds notice.

  8. Helpful (7)

    "Horribly run company by a crazy CEO"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Rakuten full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Sorry but there aren't any pros. This company is completely unorganized. No one knows what is going on. The CEO is all about his way is the only way.

    Cons

    You will be forced to exist in a company with a Japanese culture that is rammed down your throat. Policies make no sense at all. You will be forced to endure a weekly mandatory one hour meeting where you have to listen to what is going on in parts of the company that have no relation to you or your job. Truly the worst managed company I have ever worked for.

    Advice to Management

    The board of the company needs to fire the egocentric CEO.


  9. Helpful (29)

    "Run for your life!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales in San Mateo, CA
    Current Employee - Sales in San Mateo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Rakuten full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The good:
    Nice co-workers
    Nice San Mateo location
    Nice building/facility
    Competitive Health benefits
    Subsidiaries that have their stuff together

    Cons

    - Horrible maternity leave- only 10 days
    -Japanese Nationalist Dictator founder
    -Below market salaries
    -Complete disrespect of American culture
    -Management by shame and punishment
    -Founder thinks Americans are lazy and shouldn't be allowed to work from home
    -Snacks and drinks were taken away because founder thinks Americans are fat and lazy
    -Salaried professionals must check in upon arriving in the morning - akin to a roll call
    -Feedback is not only not welcome but all run in fear as Founder is prone to fits of rage, unreasonability and firing. Surrounded by yes men who carry out his orders
    -Attendance is monitored by security cameras and badge check-in, instead of trusting your employees to actually show up
    -Only 1 Female executive in a global company of more than 12,000
    -Big brother mentality
    -Founder thinks he understands Silicon Valley, but actually has no interest in following local laws and norms, but instead wants US locations to become conservatively Japanese

    Advice to Management

    International Business 101- follow the norms and culture of the country you are trying to establish yourself in.

    Rakuten Response

    Jun 27, 2017 – VP, Talent Acquisition

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Thank you for the feedback. We value the five years of service you have given to the company and encourage you to share your concerns to your manager, department head, and... More


  10. Helpful (13)

    "Stay away"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Mateo, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Mateo, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Rakuten full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    There are a lot of smart and talented people working here. Sometimes the food was pretty good.

    Cons

    - No direction or training
    - It's difficult to communicate with coworkers in other locations or departments since tools aren't standardized
    - Terrible location in San Mateo that isn't close to any public transportation. Shuttles were offered but were inefficient and facilities didn't seem interested in fixing them.
    - Constant meaningless meetings where attendance is required and monitored
    - Working from home is treated suspiciously
    - Meetings are scheduled outside working hours regularly
    - The feedback that is asked for is never acted on

    Advice to Management

    Act on employee feedback and stop trying to force the Japanese working style on American workers. Also invest in training for employees.


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