Rakuten announces its own large language model (LLM), aiming to enhance operational efficiency and enter the booming GenAI market.

Rakuten, a Japanese conglomerate spanning from fintech to e-commerce, is set to unveil its proprietary large language model (LLM), as revealed by CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani. This strategic move places Rakuten among global tech giants like OpenAI, Amazon, and Google, who have pioneered in the GenAI field. Rakuten’s unique dataset, amassed from its diverse business sectors, stands as a solid foundation for its LLM.

The LLM’s primary goal is to augment Rakuten’s internal operations, targeting a 20% boost in efficiency and marketing. Mikitani’s vision extends beyond internal use; he plans to offer the model to third-party businesses, mirroring strategies adopted by Amazon and Microsoft. This approach not only diversifies Rakuten’s engagement with GenAI but also opens new avenues for business collaborations.

In the larger picture, Rakuten’s initiative is a significant step for Japanese tech firms in the GenAI landscape, historically dominated by American and Chinese players. Companies like NTT and SoftBank have also ventured into this space, with a focus on developing LLMs attuned to the Japanese language. This regional specialization might give Japanese firms an edge in a globally competitive market.

Mikitani anticipates this venture to be a catalyst for “huge profitable growth,” positioning Rakuten as a formidable player in the GenAI domain. The company’s vast, unique data repository is expected to be a key differentiator in its GenAI journey.