Mr. Serbinis will be stepping down from his CEO role, effective immediately, and he will remain with Kobo as the company’s founder and vice chairman. He will be replaced by Takahito Aiki.
Michael Serbinis has been with Kobo since the very beginning. He initially joined the company in 2009, back when it was known as Shortcovers and was still a division of the Canadian bookseller Indigo Books. He eventually rose to the position of president and then CEO of Kobo after it was spun off into its own firm in December 2009.
He led the firm through tumultuous years, surviving the bankruptcy of 2 of Kobo’s capital investors, overseeing Kobo’s international expansion, and guaranteeing its future by arranging for its acquisition by Rakuten. The Japanese retail giant agreed to acquire Toronto-based Kobo in December 2011 for US$315-million in cash.
Mr Serbinis’s replacement,Takahito Aiki , has been with Rakuten since 2007. According to his LinkedIn profile he joined as an executive officer. Mr Aiki took over as the president and CEO of Fusion Communications, one of Rakuten’s telecom subsidiaries.
This is potentially good news for Kobo; if Serbinis had to be replaced by a Rakuten insider I don’t think they could have made a better choice. Fusion Communications provides IP telephony services in 10 countries, and that combination of tech and serving the public on an international level could prove beneficial in leading an ebook retailer. Mr. Aiki will reportedly relocate to Canada to run Kobo from the company’s current headquarters in Toronto.
Kobo reports that they have more than 18 million users in 190 countries with a catalog of more than 4 million titles in 68 languages.