#Asia Brief: Japanese ecommerce unicorn hires Facebook exec as it ramps up US expansion


Co-founder and CEO of Mercari, Shintaro Yamada at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016.

Co-founder and CEO of Mercari, Shintaro Yamada. Photo credit: Tech in Asia / Michael Holmes.

The news:

  • Japan-based online marketplace Mercari is hiring former Facebook exec John Lagerling as chief business officer. Lagerling used to be the social network’s VP of business development, mobile, and product partnerships.
  • The startup, which is Japan’s youngest unicorn, is ramping up its US presence with a growing team in San Francisco.
  • Mercari has 100 employees in the US now, compared to 30 a year ago.

Why it matters:

  • Mercari is Japan’s first startup to reach a valuation of US$1 billion (a “unicorn”) since 2008. The ecommerce company has enjoyed tremendous growth and success in its native Japan, achieving millions of dollars in net profit per month.
  • Foreign ecommerce companies like Alibaba and Rakuten haven’t made much of a dent in the US market, which is mostly still dominated by Amazon and eBay. Mercari, on the other hand, has made the country a cornerstone of its international expansion. It also recently launched in the UK.
  • The startup has raised a disclosed total of over US$115 million from investors including East Ventures, Mitsui & Co, and Globis Capital Partners.

Source: TechCrunch.

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