Rakuten Reveals Ambitious Plans for AI Dominance Beyond E-commerce

Rakuten Reveals Ambitious Plans for AI Dominance Beyond E-commerce

By Staff Writer, 12 December 2023

Rakuten, the Japanese conglomerate known for its diverse portfolio spanning fintech, e-commerce, and telecommunications, is gearing up to enter the artificial intelligence (AI) landscape with the development of its proprietary language model.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday (11/12), Rakuten CEO Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani unveiled the company's plan to create a substantial language model, akin to those utilized by prominent AI applications like OpenAI's ChatGPT.

Mikitani emphasized the distinctive advantage Rakuten holds in this endeavor, citing the abundance of "very unique" data across its various business sectors, ranging from banking to e-commerce and telecommunications.

According to Mikitani, this unparalleled dataset positions Rakuten uniquely in the AI race, stating, "Nobody has a dataset like we do."

The intended applications of Rakuten's AI model extend beyond internal use, as Mikitani expressed the company's aspiration to enhance operational efficiency and marketing by 20%.

Additionally, Rakuten plans to follow the footsteps of tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft by offering its language model to external businesses.

"We can easily teach them, package it, and provide the platform for them to completely use it for their business," Mikitani stated, underscoring Rakuten's vision to empower other enterprises with its AI capabilities.

While Mikitani mentioned a potential launch within a couple of months, a later clarification from a Rakuten spokesperson indicated that there is no specific timeline for the release.

However, an announcement related to the large language model is anticipated in the coming months.

Rakuten's foray into AI marks a strategic move to leverage its diverse dataset and technological capabilities in an evolving landscape.

Arjun Kharpal / CNBC

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