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Rakuten leads investment in Pinterest

Rakuten, the enormous Japanese online marketplace, has led a US$100 million investment in Pinterest.

Fellow investors include existing shareholders Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and FirstMark Capital, along with a number of angel investors.

The investment marks the start of a strategic partnership between Rakuten and Pinterest to help the brand expand in Japan and into Rakuten’s 17 other global markets. The funding will also allow Pinterest to continue to improve its service and expand its community globally.

Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten said: “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.

“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.”

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

Rakuten provides a variety of consumer- and business-focused services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. Among its numerous online properties, its flagship B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) model e-commerce site Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales.

Its global presence has been reinforced through the acquisitions of leading online marketplaces Buy.com (US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland) and Play.com (UK), and investments in Ozon.ru and AHA Life.

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