Japan’s largest e-commerce site Rakuten to invest in Pinterest

pinterest Japan’s largest e commerce site Rakuten to invest in PinterestRakuten, the largest e-commerce site in Japan, is expected to be the lead investor in the much-contested next round of funding for Silicon Valley’s hottest start-up, Pinterest.

According to AllThingsD, the funding is expected to be announced on May 17.

The Tokyo-based Internet giant will invest upwards of $50 million in a $100 million round that values the social bookmarking phenom at $1.5 billion.

There might other individual investors in the new round, but those were still to be determined tonight by Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann.

The current investors in Pinterest, which is a social collection site where users can “pin” their interests via a handsome graphical interface, include Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and FirstMark Capital, as well several well-known angel investors. That group had valued the company at $200 million last October, and are joining the new round pro rata.

Founded in 2008, Pinterest had previously raised a little under $40 million in funding. Sources said no new venture capital firms were included in the round and that is the way Pinterest’s quirky leadership wanted it.

Sources said Silbermann has been concerned with Pinterest’s global growth as well as fending off international clones, and was looking for a partner with which the start-up could work closely.

“Ben did not want anymore VCs,” said one source. “He wanted an investor that moved the company forward.”

Rakuten will presumably help advise Pinterest on turning their pretty pictures into purchases, as commerce is already starting to emerge naturally on the site.

Rakuten is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, with a flagship site Rakuten Ichiba. It was founded in 1997 and had revenues of $4.7 billion in 2011.

This post was originally appeared in panarmenian

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