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WeHeartIt raises $8M for its less popular version of Pinterest

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Latin American Pinterest competitor WeHeartIt has closed $8 million in its first round of funding.

We Heart It is an image-based social network that was founded in 2008. The company claims it was roughly five times the size of Pinterest in 2011, but since then it has “remained in the shadows.” Pinterest is a tough competitor –  it broke 10 million unique visitor mark faster than any other site in recorded web history. It now has 48.7 million users.

We Heart It has 20 million users and said it attracted over 1 billion visits in the past two years from over 230 countries — this is quite feat considering there are 190 countries in the world (depending on who you ask). It is one of the top 5 sites in Latin America and is adding 1 million registered users a month. We Heart It members spend more than 16.5 minutes per user session on the web and visit the mobile apps an average of 25 times per month. Users are collectively “hearting” more than 75 images per second on the service.

Pinterest is one of the most popular social media companies to emerge in the past few years. It has a rapid following, and startups and large companies alike are drawing inspiration from its design and user-experience. Pinterest “pins” are also of greater value to brands than a Facebook like or tweet. It is more than just a social network — it is a full-on marketing channel and a source for ideas and inspiration. Its $2.5 billion valuation stems from not just the size of its audience but also from the impact and influence of its community, and CEO Ben Silberman said that the company is holding off monetizing until it can find a way to do that without compromising the user experience. Pinterest recently raised $200 million from some of the biggest names in venture capital to help it get there.

We Heart It has significantly less funding. This $8 million round led by White Oak and IDG Ventures is its first outside investment. Founder Fabio Giolito resisted taking outside capital for a long time, relying on self-serve ad placements for revenue. The fact that it managed to attract 20 million users while bootstrapped is impressive. This financing will fuel team expansion and product development.

We Heart It is based in San Francisco.

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