Japanese e-commerce behemoth Rakuten has acquired the assets of Irish-based Bitnet, a bitcoin wallet start up that received $14.5M in funding when it first launched 2 years ago. Rakuten is the corporate entity that owns Rakuten.com, which was previously founded in the US as Buy.com in 1997, then renamed and later sold to the Japanese firm.
The firm plans to use the entity as a “bitcoin lab” and was an investor in the previous round.
According to Techcrunch, “Rakuten integrated Belfast-based Bitnet’s payment option into some of its online commerce sites last summer. Bitnet was supposed to rival bitcoin payment heavyweights Coinbase and Bitpay, but after a spate of executives left and the startup reportedly laid off half of its staff to cut costs, it struggled to grow its business. That led to this strategic asset-stripping move from Rakuten.”
In fact, the bitcoin wallet space is a tricky one, and still in its relative infancy. Atlanta-based Bitpay had layoffs last summer, after expanding rapidly, so it’s understandable that Bitnet experienced similar challenges monetizing the firm.