Pinterest Valued At $1.5 Billion Following Rakuten Investment
May 18, 2012

Pinterest Valued At $1.5 Billion Following Rakuten Investment

The Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. announced on Thursday that it was leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest, valuing the image-based social network at $1.5 billion.

The money will help fund Pinterest´s next stage of growth as the company breaks into new international markets.

Existing Pinterest investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and FirstMark Capital, as well as a number of angel investors, also participated in Pinterest´s latest round of financing.

"The funding will allow Pinterest to continue improving its service and expanding its community globally," Rakuten said in a statement.

"The investment also marks the start of a strategic partnership between Rakuten and Pinterest to help expand in Japan and into Rakuten's 17 other global markets."

Pinterest has become one of the hottest new properties on the Web, providing users with virtual bulletin boards they can fill with personalized photos and other images showcasing their interests in a wide variety of subjects.   Users can also re-pin the finds of others, and Rakuten will soon add “pin it” buttons on its site as well to let users share pictures of their purchase ideas.

Based on surveys conducted earlier this year, Pinterest had approximately 12 million unique visitors, and some see a potential for the two-year-old site to be used for e-commerce.

"We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest's vision and Rakuten's model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world,” Rakuten´s chief executive, Hiroshi Mikitani.

"While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining,” he said.

Ben Silbermann, co-founder and chief executive of Palo Alto, CA-based Pinterest, said his company seeks "to help people discover things they love, by connecting people through their shared interests. Bringing Rakuten on board gives us an amazing opportunity to move a step closer to this goal."

Pinterest´s latest round of financing comes amid intense interest in social media, and coincides with Facebook's long-anticipated initial public offering on Friday.  The IPO is expected to value the popular social network at more than $100 billion.

Rakuten is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, and ranks among the top 10 Internet companies globally.  Its investment holdings extend far beyond Japan, including stakes in companies such as in the U.S. and Priceminister in France.