Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. – one of the world’s largest Internet services companies. He began his career as an investment banker at Industrial Bank of Japan and left in 1995 to start his own consulting firm, Crimson Group. Two years later and with just a handful of employees, he launched “Rakuten Ichiba” – the Rakuten marketplace. In Japanese, rakuten means optimism.
Rakuten, which was founded on a mission of empowering people and society through the Internet, has expanded beyond e-commerce to encompass a dynamic global ecosystem of over 70 different Internet services as diverse as travel, banking, credit card, eReading, and professional sports. The firm has operations in 28 countries/regions and customers all over the world.
In keeping with his conviction that a low-cost and open Internet environment empowers businesses and individuals to innovate, which leads to economic growth, Mikitani co-founded the Japan Association of New Economy (JANE), where he serves as Representative Director. JANE’s mission is to strengthen Japan’s competitiveness through the expansion of the Internet and e-business.
Born in Kobe, Mikitani was educated at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, and then earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993. In 2011, he was appointed Chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, which has the longest history and tradition of any orchestra in Japan. In 2012, he was awarded the HBS Alumni Achievement Award, one of the school’s highest honors. He is also a recipient of the Legion of Honour, an award bestowed by the French government in recognition of his contributions to the economy and culture of France.