Pinterest has just announced that it has received $100 million of funding to bring the young company's valuation at $1.5 billion. Yowzers. That expected valuation is a sharp jump from the $200 million that was estimated by the Wall Street Journal last year, especially considering that the company is only three years old.
Rakuten, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, is leading the round with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, and a number of angel investors.
Pinterest, an online scrapbook where users can "pin" images and follow other people's pins, has grown from less than one million users in May 2011 to roughly 20 million last month, according to comScore. It is the 16th most-visited site in the United States, according to Web information company Alexa, and is securing itself as the third most visited social media site after Facebook and Twitter.
The Palo Alto, California-based company, which was launched in the fall of 2009, is led by co-founder Ben Silberman.
Before this round, Pintrest had raise just under $40 million in funding.
The choice of having an e-commerce company like Rakuten lead this round shows Pinterest's drive to really mark its site as a driver of e-commerce and marketing since many online companies have found seen the benefits of people pinning their products.
Rakuten was founded in 1997 and had revenues of $4.7 billion in 2011. Its CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, is one of the richest men in Japan.
“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," Mikitani said in a statement. "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 ranks among the top 10 internet companies in the world.
If Pinterest can successfully leverage its brand as the place to really translate online browsers into buyers, the sky will be the limit for the company.