Pinterest’s top shareholder is co-founder and executive chairman Benjamin Silbermann, followed by the other co-founders Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. Top institutional investors comprise The Vanguard Group and T. Rowe Price.
By 2022, Pinterest generated $2.8 billion in revenue.
The company had 3,987 employees in 2022.
And it reached 450 million monthly active users.
Its average revenue per user in the US (which is the most valuable geography for Pinterest) was $7.6.
For some context, in the same period, Facebook’s ARPU in the US & Canada was over $58.
Silbermann came from a family of doctors and felt destined to become one himself, but as a child, he idolized entrepreneurs such as Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. In addition to his passion for visionaries, Silbermann had also been an avid bug collector as a child and thought that “the things you collect say so much about who you are.”
In early adulthood, Silbermann landed a job at Google in customer support because he was “more excited than the previous applicant” and, once there, was inspired by the company’s audacity to think “at a really big scale.”
He later worked on the design and development of Google’s display ads, but with no engineering qualifications, he was prevented from building his own products in the company’s much-vaunted “20% time”.
After encouragement from his girlfriend, Silbermann quit Google to pursue his own interests.
Sometime in 2009, Silbermann teamed up with college friend Paul Sciarra to develop Tote. The phone-based app intended to replace paper catalogs with digital versions and enable consumers to save items, browse apparel, and receive push notifications from around 30 different retailers.
After enduring countless rejections, the pair eventually secured funding from an investor. But Tote would ultimately fail for two main reasons. The first was that the app was ahead of its time since eCommerce was not yet mainstream. The second, related reason was that the App store did not provide support for cloud-based app companies.
Despite Tote not working out, Silbermann and Sciarra observed that users browsed for products and then saved them using the app’s Favorite function. Many were also discovering new products and sending images of the products to themselves.
Based on user data from the platform, the pair started work on a new prototype. One of the core concepts was the idea of buckets, where users could organize their collection of saved images.
Pinterest is born
While Silbermann was visiting a friend in New York, he met Evan Sharp through a friend of a friend. The pair immediately bonded over their love of the internet, with Silbermann also of the opinion that Sharp was the only person who understood his vision for Pinterest.
The now trio built a rudimentary version of Pinterest in a small Manhattan apartment, with Sharp credited as inventing the platform’s grid layout while also carrying out much of the early coding and design work.
In March 2010, a prototype was sent via email to around 200 family and friends. Around 50% opened the email and started to use the app in the way its creators had hoped.
Over time, the launch transitioned into an open beta format where others could access the platform with an invite from someone else.
When Pinterest passed 5,000 users, Silbermann made a point to personally contact each one of them. When the platform passed 10,000 members after just nine months, the company once more took the opportunity to quiz users about their overall experience.
Silbermann’s attention to detail and obsession with every aspect of Pinterest’s design helped him navigate a difficult first year in business. Most social media users of the time were more interested in news feeds than they were grid layouts, while others did not understand the concept of pinboards in any case.
However, an inflection point was reached in mid-2010 when a user started the Pin It Forward campaign. The campaign encouraged bloggers to exchange pinboards about what home meant to them, and soon, people started using Pinterest in ways the founders had not envisioned.
For example, one user created a board entitled “Things That Look Like the Deathstar” while another created a guide for tourists visiting London.
An iPad app and Pinterest Mobile for non-iPhone users was released in 2011, with growth thereafter seeing Pinterest enter the top 10 largest social network services with 11 million weekly visitors.
First revenue and IPO
Pinterest generated its first revenue in 2014 after it launched a system where businesses could advertise their products to users. By 2016, there were 150 million monthly active users with 80 million of those outside the United States.
The company confidentially lodged the paperwork for an IPO in February 2019, with its stock market debut coming on April 18. Pinterest was soon valued at almost $14 billion, which made Silbermann a billionaire and many others very wealthy.
- Pinterest is a social media service that enables users to save and discover information from the internet. The company was founded in December 2009 by former Facebook product designer Evan Sharp together with Paul Sciarra and Ben Silbermann.
- Silbermann was born into a family of doctors but always had a passion for collecting and the internet. He started the failure venture Tote with friend Paul Sciarra before the pair were joined by Evan Sharp.
- The now trio built a rudimentary version of Pinterest in a small Manhattan apartment, with a closed beta launch to 200 friends and family mildly successful. Once in the public domain, however, Pinterest grew rapidly as users adapted the platform for their own purposes.
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