Pinterest Investor Says the Startup Is Unlikely To Become a ‘Virtual Shopping Mall’

Pinterest may look like a virtual showroom filled with furniture, clothing, and gourmet food, but the social curation site still doesn’t have a business model.  Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, who recently led Pinterest’s $100 million funding round, explained that there’s more to the site than just e-commerce.

Mikitani sat down with Forbes’ Parmy Olsen to discuss Pinterest’s future now that the company has partnered with Rakuten, the “Amazon.com of Japan.”

When asked whether he thought Pinterest would become a virtual shopping mall, Mikitani told Olson:

I don’t think so. There are so many copycats of Pinterest already who are focusing just on shopping but they are not getting as much attraction as Pinterest because they are too commercial. You need to get the right level of balance. Pinterest is so different – they have a very scientific approach… I researched [Pinterest's] background. They analyze behavior very deeply. They know if it is too much skewed to shopping they will lose attraction.

The reason, Mikitani explained, is that Pinterest “is about connecting people’s interests” and allowing them to become curators. In that regard, he said, “Pinterest and Facebook are very different.” An interesting viewpoint, considering Facebook’s push to have its users track their hobbies and interests through its Timelines apps.

But the Rakuten CEO hasn’t written off Facebook’s potential for e-commerce.  Facebook reaches a broader audience on larger scale than Pinterest, which has a smaller — and largely female — user base.

Mikitani, whose company acquired the e-reader Kobo in November 2011, also noted that Facebook is better suited for social reading than the bookmarking site.

To read the rest of Forbes‘ interview with Mr. Mikitani, click here.

Image by Karkas via Shutterstock.

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