The online bulletin-board style social network Pinterest announced on March 16 that it had raised $367 million in new capital, pushing its valuation to $11 billion.
The new funds will help fuel global expansion plans for the fast-growing social network which calls itself a “visual bookmarking tool.”
Pinterest said $367 million in primary financing was raised at a valuation of $11 billion, and that it may raise as much as an additional $211 million.
The latest funding more than doubles Pinterest’s previous valuation of $5 billion from less than a year ago, underscoring the premium investors are placing on the most sought-after companies.
Pinterest said new investors have joined the round but declined to name them. Past investors, which previously put in $764 million, include venture-capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, hedge fund Valiant Capital Partners and Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten Inc.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s Billion Dollar Startup Club, only five private, venture-backed companies in the world are valued higher than Pinterest, and one, Indian online retailer Flipkart, is valued at the same amount. Launched in 2010, Pinterest has taken off among the arts-and-craft and design-savvy crowds, gaining particular traction among women. Users are able to “pin” images to pages or “boards” on a range of topics whether if it is to remodel a kitchen or plan a trip.
What started out as a place to save images, Pinterest is angling to become the search engine for discovery, or the place to go to when users are looking for new ideas. Those intents give clear signals to advertisers looking for their target customer.
Pinterest’s loyal and female-centric user base makes it an attractive destination for advertisers, said Matt Britton, CEO of digital marketing agency MRY.
“They have a lot of things going for them,” Mr. Britton said. “Pinterest’s users are the CFO and CMO of the household, moms,” a valuable audience for brand-name consumer product companies. “They can deliver ads to these moms in a way that Facebook and Twitter can’t.”
The company says it aims to use the funds for international expansion. Last year, international users increased more than 135% and now comprise more than 40% of all users, compared with 28% in 2013, Pinterest said.
Pinterest’s unique U.S. visitors reached an all-time high of 75.8 million in January, up 37% from the same time a year earlier, according to comScore.