Pinterest is said to be actively exploring a new funding round that would value the nearly 3-year-old service at between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.
The San Francisco-based startup is in ongoing talks to raise money at the steep valuation, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The Journal didn't the name the investors involved or the amount of the proposed deal. Pinterest declined to comment on its funding plans.
Launched in 2010, Pinterest offers people a digital and mobile way to collect items, called "pins," while browsing, and save them to boards. The service, known for its fashion, decor, and recipe collections, is extremely popular with Caucasian females between the ages of 25 and 49, according to published data from analytics firm Nielsen.
Last May, the service closed aat a $1.5 billion valuation. In total, the young company has raised $137 million in financing from Rakuten, Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital.
How can a company with no revenue arrive at a $2.5 billion valuation? Good question. Sam Hamadeh, CEO of PrivCo, a financial-data firm that tracks private companies, said Pinterest's valuation sights are set too high. What's happening, he said, is that the startup's backers are pushing for an "up round" -- or a round of financing where investors buy stock at a higher valuation than the valuation arrived at by earlier investors -- but they won't get the numbers they want.
"We think Pinterest will have to settle for, at best, a nominal 'up round' to save face at say $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion. Proof of revenue monetization needs to come soon for Pinterest," Hamadeh said. "To go after new funding at a $2.5 billion valuation, [Pinterest] must immediately demonstrate a revenue model...."
Money matters aside, Pinterest was quite the 2012 standout, growing by more than 1,000 percent year-over-year, according to Nielsen. In December, Nielsen pinned Pinterest's U.S. Web traffic at 27.2 million unique visitors. On mobile, the analytics firm figured, the pinning site had 4.9 million unique application users and a mobile Web audience of 14.3 mobile people.