Rakuten continues global push

New York City-based AHAlife.com, an editorialised e-commerce platform for luxury goods and curated gifts, has raised US$10.1 million in new funding.

The biggest investor is Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce company.

Existing investors DCM and FirstMark Capital also participated in the round, bringing the company’s total funding to US$19.1 million. Proceeds from the funding will be used to accelerate future growth.

AHAlife.com, launched in September 2010, showcases and sells hand-selected items and tells the story behind the making of the product, along with designer and curator profiles, and a visual journey inside the creative process. The offering includes beauty, fashion, technology, food and home decor.

“AHAlife.com has developed a strong online following in curating luxury brands from around the world,” said Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

“The AHAlife.com team is expert in the full price luxury market and we see enormous global market opportunity in the business model. By digitally telling the stories behind products, their creators, and curators, AHAlife.com is promoting conscious consumption, a value of increasing importance to consumers in the US, Asia, and around the world.”

AHAlife.com founder and CEO, Shauna Mei said: “As we looked toward international expansion, particularly in Asia, Rakuten emerged as the strongest partner with their operational excellence and dominant market share in Japan.” 

In Japan, 79 per cent of web users (75 million consumers) are members of Rakuten’s marketplace, giving Rakuten an approximate 30 per cent share of the Japanese e-commerce market.

“We believe that Asian consumers will identify with AHAlife.com’s mission to give them access to hand selected exceptional products, as they have a high level of appreciation for quality and innovation as well as the story behind what they are purchasing,” added Mei.

AHAlife.com previously raised US$9 million in funding from DCM, FirstMark Capital, and angel investors, including former French Minister of Commerce, Renaud Dutreil, philanthropist and filmmaker, Abigail Disney and Pulitzer Prize winner Sheryl WuDunn.

Rakuten acquired US shopping portal Buy.com for US$250 million in 2010 and invested US$100 million in Russian online retailer Ozon.ru, where it holds a minority stake, last year.


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