TOKYO: Rakuten Inc., Japan’s biggest online shopping-site operator, is leading a group investing US$100 million in social networking service operator Pinterest.
Rakuten was joined by investors including venture-capital firms FirstMark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, Rakuten said in a statement today,May 17, 2012.
Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.
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.
"We see a high potential in Pinterest that is growing at an accelerated pace," Hirotoshi Kato, Rakuten spokesman said by telephone. "We have collaborated with Facebook and Mixi. We will reinforce the social area."
Pinterest operates a social networking site where users can collect and share photos on the Internet. It had 11.7 million visitors as of January, according to the statement.
Pinterest may be able to expand in Asia and Europe through Rakuten’s subsidiaries, Kato said.
Rakuten’s investments over the last twelve months include the purchase of a 75% 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. (Bloomberg/T07)