Pinterest Raises $100 Million at a $1.5 Billion Valuation

Pinterest has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by Japanese company Rakuten, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, and other angel investors.  The goal is to use the funds to help improve Pinterest’s service and continue to attract new users.

The virtual pinboard is said to be worth $1.5 billion, according to a report by AllThingsD. This marks Pinterest’s fourth round of funding, for a total of $138 million to date.

Rakuten, Inc.owns numerous online marketplaces all over the world. In a strategic partnership with the top-ten Internet company, Pinterest will use the money to expand its reach in Japan, as well as in Rakuten’s 17 other global markets.

The Palo Alto-based startup faces competition from numerous clone sites, including one from Renren, a popular social network in China.

To compete in the global market, Pinterest’s founders have been looking for translators to help launch the site in other languages.

The startup will also continue to improve its service. “Our goal is to help people discover things they love, by connecting people through their shared interests,” said Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest in a statement. “Bringing Rakuten on board gives us an amazing opportunity to move a step closer to this goal.”

Though retailers have flocked to Pinterest for referral traffic to their e-commerce sites, the startup hasn’t taken its business model beyond a brief experiment with affiliate links.

If Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani’s statement is any indication, this is about to change. “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. “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.”