U.S. web service startup Pinterest, based in Silicon Valley, has raised $100 million in funding from an investment group led by Japan’s Rakuten Inc. This puts the company at a value of roughly $1.5 billion, making it the latest social network to find investors eager to give it money. This news was announced just before Facebook’s big reveal about its own valuation and stock offerings.
Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce site, and one of the largest in the world, has been looking to expand their overseas presence, especially in the U.S. market, just as Pinterest was looking to expand outside the U.S. Rakuten’s investment will see CEO Hiroshi Mikitani become an advisor for the startup. The Japanese company will also begin incorporating the social network’s “pin it” button (similar to Facebook’s “like” button) on their network’s websites. Pinterest presents itself as an online scrapbook, where users can share images and things they find online as well as in the real world by “pinning” them to their board. And just like Facebook, people can follow others and leave comments.
Pinterest’s user base has rapidly grown in the last year, going from less than a million in May 2011 to around 20 million in this past April. And while the company’s valuation of $200 million at the end of last year has grown to $1.5 billion, co-founder Ben Silbermann still had trouble finding investors for the first few weeks of searching. One venture capitalist said that many were hesitant to invest in a company that currently makes almost no revenue.