Pinterest, an image-based social network, raised $100 million in a financing round that values the company at about $1.5 billion, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Pinterest, based in Palo Alto, California, will use the funds to develop country-specific sites, such as Pinterest China, said the person, who declined to be named because the plans aren’t public.
Rakuten Inc. (4755), Japan’s biggest online shopping-site operator, led the round and was joined by investors including venture-capital firms FirstMark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, Rakuten said in a statement today.
“We see a high potential in Pinterest that is growing at an accelerated pace,” Hirotoshi Kato, a Rakuten spokesman, said by telephone. “We will reinforce the social area.”
Pinterest operates a social networking site where users can collect and share photos on the Internet by pinning them to a virtual bulletin board. Users can re-pin others’ finds, which can range from recipes to wedding dresses. Rakuten will soon add “pin it” buttons on its site to let users share pictures of their purchase ideas.
The Japanese Internet company has invested in online businesses including Brazilian online retailer Ikeda to expand around the world. The Tokyo-based company’s flagship shopping portal, Rakuten Ichiba, connects merchants to customers looking for a one-stop shop for products from electronics to pajamas.
Pinterest had 11.7 million visitors as of January, and can use Rakuten’s subsidiaries to expand in Asia and Europe, according to the statement.
Rakuten’s investments over the past 12 months include the purchase of a 75 percent stake in Brazilian e-commerce business Ikeda last year for an undisclosed amount.
The company in September announced plans to buy Play Holdings Ltd., a U.K.-based operator of an online retail site, for 25 million pounds ($40 million) in cash.
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