A new $100 million round of funding values the white-hot mood-board site Pinterest at $1.5 billion, up from $200 million last fall. The worth, in the eyes of investors, comes not from the participation of Barack Obama and Ann Romney, although that's great too, but from "pinners" (?) who use the site aspirationally, and then actually buy things. The fact that pretty pictures encourage people to spend money emerged somewhat naturally on the social network and brands quickly took notice. While monetizing the site's sudden popularity is still a way off, this funding round is a deliberate step in that direction.
Leading the investment wave is the Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten, which not only expands Pinterest's international reach, but points them toward dollar signs. "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," said Rakuten's CEO. "We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest's vision and Rakuten's model for e-commerce." All of those buzzwords are tech-speak for "add to shopping cart."