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Pinterest, Inc. is a social media web and mobile application company. It operates a software system designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the World Wide Web using images and, on a smaller scale, GIFs and videos.[6] The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp. Pinterest has reached 300 million monthly active users as of August 2019.[7]

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann summarized the company as a "catalogue of ideas" that inspires users to "go out and do that thing", rather than as an image-based social network.[8]

PinterestPinterest, Inc.
Visual discovery, collection, and storage tool
Available in27 languages
OwnerPinterest, Inc.
Users291 million active users
LaunchedMarch 2010
Current statusActive
Traded asNYSE: PINS[122](Class A)
IndustrySocial networking
FoundedDecember 2009
FoundersBen SilbermannPaul SciarraEvan Sharp
Ben Silbermann (CEO)Evan Sharp (chief product officer)
SubsidiariesJelly Industries
Footnotes / references[3][4][5]


2009–2011: Founding

Development of Pinterest began in December 2009, and the site launched as a closed beta in March 2010. Nine months after the launch the website had 10,000 users.[9] Silbermann said he personally wrote to the site's first 5,000 users offering his personal phone number and even meeting with some of its users.[10] The launch of an iPhone app in early March 2011, brought in a more than expected number of downloads.[11] The Pinterest iPad app was launched August 2011.[12] Pinterest Mobile, launched the following month, was a version of the website for non-iPhone users.[13] Silbermann and a few programmers operated the site out of a small apartment until the summer of 2011.[10]

On August 10, 2011, Time magazine listed Pinterest in its "50 Best Websites of 2011" article.[14] In December 2011, the site became one of the top 10 largest social network services, according to Hitwise data, with 11 million total visits per week.[15] The next month, it drove more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+.[16][17] The same month, the company was named the best new startup of 2011 by TechCrunch.[18] Noted entrepreneurs and investors include: Jack Abraham, Michael Birch, Scott Belsky, Brian Cohen, Shana Fisher, Ron Conway, FirstMark Capital, Kevin Hartz, Jeremy Stoppelman, Hank Vigil, and Fritz Lanman.[19]

2012–2018: Growth

Founder Ben Silbermann (left) at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in March 2012

Founder Ben Silbermann (left) at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in March 2012

For January 2012, comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors, making it the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.[20] comScore recorded a unique users moving average growth of 85% from mid-January to mid-February and a 17% growth from mid-February to mid-March.[21] At the South By Southwest Interactive conference in March 2012, Silbermann announced revamped profile pages were being developed and would be implemented soon.[10] On 23 March 2012, Pinterest unveiled updated terms of service that eliminated the policy that gave it the right to sell its users' content.[22] The terms would go into effect April 6.[23] According to Experian Hitwise, the site became the third largest social network in the United States in March 2012, behind Facebook and Twitter.[24]

Co-founder Paul Sciarra left his position at Pinterest in April 2012 for a consulting job as entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz.[25] On 17 May 2012, Japanese electronic commerce company Rakuten announced it was leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest, alongside investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, based on a valuation of $1.5 billion.[26][27]

On August 10, 2012, Pinterest altered their policy so that a request or an invitation was no longer required to join the site.[28] In addition, the Pinterest app for Android and iPad was also launched on August 14, 2012.[29] On September 20, 2012 Pinterest announced the hiring of its new head of engineering, Jon Jenkins. Jenkins came from Amazon, where he spent eight years as an engineering lead and was also a director of developer tools, platform analysis and website platform.[30]

In October 2012, Pinterest announced a new feature that would allow users to report others for negative and offensive activity or block other users if they do not want to view their content.

Pinterest said they want to keep their community "positive and respectful."[31] Also in October, Pinterest launched business accounts allowing businesses to either convert their existing personal accounts into business accounts, or start from scratch.[32]

Much of the service's early user base consisted of infrequent contributors. The site's user growth, which slowed in March 2012, could pick up as the site's user base solidifies around dedicated users according to a comScore representative.[33] In August 2012, Pinterest overtook competing micro-blogging site Tumblr for the first time in terms of unique monthly visitors, clocking in at just under 25 million.[34]

In February 2013, Reuters and ComScore stated that Pinterest had 48.7 million users globally.[35] A study released in July 2013 by French social media agency Semiocast revealed the website had 70 million users worldwide.[36]

In 2014, Pinterest generated its first revenue, when it began charging advertisers to promote their wares to the site's millions of hobbyists, vacation planners, and do-it-yourselfers.

Ads on the site could generate as much as $500 million in 2016, estimates Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.[37]

In October 2016, Pinterest announced 150 million monthly active users, 70 million in the U.S. and 80 million outside the U.S.[38] Then in April 2017, they announced 175 million monthly active users, with 3x year over year growth in Germany and Brazil and 2x year over year growth in France and Japan.[39]

In June 2017, Pinterest raised $150 million from a group of existing investors.[40]

In September 2018, Pinterest announced that it had 250 million monthly active users, with most new growth coming from outside the United States of America.[41]

2013–2017: Acquisitions

In March 2013, Pinterest acquired Livestar.

Terms were not disclosed.[42] In early October 2013, Pinterest acquired Hackermeter.

The company's co-founders, Lucas Baker and Frost Li, joined Pinterest as engineers.[43]

In late October 2013, Pinterest secured a $225 million round of equity funding that valued the website at $3.8 billion.[44]

In April 2015, Pinterest acquired the team from Hike Labs, which had been developing a mobile publishing application called Drafty.[45]

In June 2015, Pinterest unveiled "buyable pins".

Rich Pins – pins which have more information than a normal link – will get a new button that allows users to purchase things directly from partners that it's working for.

Users will see prices, be able to select specific types of a product (like the color), and then they can tap the button to buy the product.

The item will arrive at the user's door.[46]

In December 2015, Pinterest launched a new way for users to monitor price drops on buyable pins.

"When users save pins, they’ll get a heads up when a price drops in the form of an in-app notification and an email.

They can then jump straight to that pin and make the purchase."[47]

In May 2016, Pinterest acquired mobile deep linking startup URX to help accelerate its content understanding efforts.

[48] The URX team's expertise in mobile content discovery and recommendation would prove critical to helping Pinterest understand its corpus of over 100 billion pins, to better recommend them to its users.

In August 2016, Pinterest launched a video player that lets users and brands upload and store clips of any length straight to the site.[49] On August 23, 2016, Pinterest announced that it would be acquiring the team behind Instapaper, which will continue operating as a separate app.

The Instapaper team will both work on the core Pinterest experience and updating Instapaper.[50] On March 8, 2017, Pinterest said it had acquired Jelly Industries, a small search-engine company founded by Biz Stone.[51]

In February 2019, Wall Street Journal stated that Pinterest secretly filed for IPO. The total valuation of the company at the time reached $12 billion.[52]


Design as of 2012.

Design as of 2012.

Pinterest is a free website that requires registration to use.[53] Users can upload, save, sort, and manage images—known as pins—and other media content (e.g., videos) through collections known as pinboards.[54]

Content can also be found outside Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the "Pin It" button, which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser,[55] or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website.

Some websites include red and white "pin it" buttons on items, which allow Pinterest users to pin them directly.

In 2015, Pinterest implemented a feature that allows users to search with images instead of words.[56]

Business pages

This rapid growth has drawn businesses, especially retailers, to expand their presence on the site.

Pinterest has just announced Pinterest pages for business.

People want to get ideas from businesses to figure out what to do or buy next.

Pinterest also allows businesses to create pages aimed at promoting their companies online.[57] Such pages can serve as a "virtual storefront."

In one case study of a fashion website, users visiting from Pinterest spent $180 compared to $85 spent from users coming from Facebook.

These users spent less time on the company's website, choosing instead to browse from the company's pinboard.[58] Further brand studies have continued to show Pinterest is more effective at driving sales than other forms of social media.[59] A study carried out by Wolfgang Digital found that site traffic originating from Pinterest Business pages was more engaged spending up to five times longer on site.[60]

In 2013, Pinterest introduced a new tool called 'Rich Pins', to enhance the customer experience when browsing through pins made by companies.

Business pages can include various data, topics and information such as prices of products, ratings of movies or ingredients for recipes.[61]

In May 2017, Pinterest president Tim Kendall made the announcement for Instant Ideas, the new feature allows advertisers to reach consumers through their smartphone's camera.[62][63][64][62] Pinterest plans to eventually add them to results displayed when people use its Lens feature to scan a photo from their phone to find related pins as well as the Shop the Look feature that lets people tap products featured in a photo to reveal a list of links to similar products available for purchase.[65]

User data

Registration is required to use.[53]

Like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest now lets marketers access the data collected on its users. Technology providers including Salesforce.com, Hootsuite, Spredfast, Percolate, Piqora, Curalate, and Tailwind are presently the only companies granted access to the data. By granting access to users' data, Pinterest lets marketers investigate how people respond to products.[66] If a product has a high number of repins, this generally tells the producer of the product that it is well liked by many members of the Pinterest community. Now that Pinterest lets marketers access the data, companies can view user comments on the product to learn how people like or dislike it. A 2013 study on Pinterest practices found that "repinning" was the most popular action by users, followed by likes, and lastly, commenting.[67] According to Salesforce.com, Pinterest has become a key part of corporate digital marketing strategies.

Before 2013, Pinterest only accounted for about 2 percent of global social-mediated sales, but by May 2014 that was up to about 23 percent.[68] People use social media sites like Pinterest to direct or guide their choices in products.

A study from October 2016 found that 60% of Pinterest users are women.[69] Many businesses use Pinterest Analytics to investigate whether the time spent on the social networking site is actually producing results or not.

Through the access of Pinterest Analytics, companies receive insight to data via API, which makes it easier for the businesses using this method to closely engage with the consumer population on Pinterest.[70]

Pinterest Analytics is much like Google Analytics. It is a created service that generates comprehensive statistics on a specific website's traffic, commonly used by marketers. Pins, pinners, repins, and repinners are some aspects of user data that Pinterest Analytics provides. It also collects data that depicts the percentage of change within a specific time, to determine if a product is more popular on a specific day during the week, or slowly becoming unpopular. This data helps marketing agencies alter their strategies to gain more popularity, often changing the visual content to appeal to the Pinterest community. The "Most Clicked" tab in Pinterest Analytics demonstrates products that are more likely to sell. According to a study by Converto, in April 2012, Pinterest drove more social media-originated e-commerce sales than Facebook or Twitter.[71]

Companies also can add their own ideas features to explore how consumers respond to a product, like the Pinterest Trends product, Piqora. Piqora is a visual analytics and marketing provider for specific visual social networking sites including Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. Marketers use Piqora's Pinterest Trends to analyze a brand's performance against competitors on Pinterest.[72]


Globally, the site is most popular with women.

In 2012, a report found that 83% of the global users were women.[73] By 2016 the proportion of women users was lower at 60%.[69] Britain, however, is an exception. As of March 2012, 56% of the users were male with different age profiles, being about 10 years younger than in the U.S., where the predominant age range was typically 35–44.[74] In terms of age distribution, the Pinterest demographic closely resembles the U.S. Internet population.[75]



A Pin is an image that has been linked from a website or uploaded.

Pins saved from one user's board can be saved to someone else's board, a process known as "repinning."[76] In 2016, Pinterest renamed the "Pin it" button to "Save."

The purpose behind the renaming was due to international expansion, making the site more intuitive to new users.[77] In October 2013, Pinterest began displaying advertisements in the form of “Promoted Pins.”[78] Promoted Pins are based on an individual user's interests, things done on Pinterest, or a result of visiting an advertiser's site or app. [79]


Boards are collections of pins dedicated to a theme such as quotations, travel, or weddings.

Boards with multiple ideas can have different Sections that further contain multiple pins.[80]


Pinterest uses a feature called Guided Search, which gives keyword suggestions when entering a search term, narrowing down results.[81] The home feed is a collection of Pins from the users, boards, and topics followed, as well as a few Promoted Pins and Pins Pinterest has picked.[82] On the main Pinterest page, a "pin feed" appears, displaying the chronological activity from the Pinterest boards that a user follows.[83]

In recent months, Pinterest introduced visual search as part of their latest feature.

This search feature allows users to take a photo of existing pins, zoom into existing parts of a photo or take new photos.

Then, users could click into any of the assigned circles and multiple suggestions will pop up in the guided search below the photo.

If the item is in Pinterest's database, it will direct the user to the shop or pins that are similar.

This feature incorporates the guided search feature as it gives keyword suggestions and narrowing down the results for the photo.[84]


Following users and boards fills the home feed with content.

Users can follow and unfollow users as well as boards.[82] Similar to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Pinterest contains verified accounts.[85] A verified account will contain a checkmark next to their domain in the search results. The verified profile will also contain a full website URL and checkmark.[86]


Pinterest was first conceptualized in December 2009 by cofounders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra. The first prototype was launched in March 2010 and made available to a small group of colleagues and family members. Since its inception, it has developed into a well-funded site financially supported by a group of successful entrepreneurs and investors including FirstMark Capital, Jack Abraham (Milo), Michael Birch (Bebo), Scott Belsky (Behance), Shana Fisher (Highline Venture Partners), Ron Conway (SV Angel), Kevin Hartz (EventBrite), Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp), Hank Vigil, Fritz Lanman, and Brian S. Cohen.[87]

In early 2011, the company secured a US$10 million Series A financing led by Jeremy Levine and Sarah Tavel of Bessemer Venture Partners. In October 2011, after an introduction from Kevin Hartz and Jeremy Stoppelman, the company secured US$27 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at US$200 million.[88]

Retail companies use Pinterest for advertising and style trending.

Pinterest intends web design to support "style conscious retailers", where customers can visualize products within a consumer context.

Companies like The Gap, Chobani, Nordstrom, and West Elm use Pinterest to gather online referrals that link users with similar interests to a company.

The Gap has arguably taken the biggest initiative in their use of Pinterest, employing their own themed pinboards such as "Denim Icons [124] " and "Everybody in Gap."

Pinterest played a role in the run-up to the 2012 US presidential election. The wives of both candidates created accounts. Ann Romney debuted her Pinterest account in March and First Lady Michelle Obama announced hers in June.[89]

In May 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion.

In February 2013, it was valued at $2.5 billion.

In October 2013, it was valued at $3.8 billion.

In May 2014, it was valued at $5 billion.

In June 2015, it was valued at $11 billion.[90] In May 2015, Fortune Magazine listed Pinterest in the 8th position on its Unicorn List, which ranks startups that have a valuation exceeding $1 billion.[91] As of 2017 the company is valued at $12 billion.[40]

In June 2015, Pinterest added the "Buy" button to its mobile app.[90]

In Alex Heath's article on Business Insider, he sheds a light to Pinterest's interest in becoming a search company, hence, “the company is putting search front and center in its app with [Pinterest Lens].”[92]

In March 2019, Pinterest added product catalogs and personalized shopping recommendations with the "more from [brand]" option, showcasing a range of product Pins from the same business.[93]

Copyrighted content

Pinterest has a notification system that copyright holders can use to request that content be removed from the site.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor status of Pinterest has been questioned given that it actively promotes its users to copy to Pinterest, for their perpetual use, any image on the Internet. Pinterest users cannot claim safe harbor status and as such are exposed to possible legal action for pinning copyright material. Pinterest allows users to transfer information, intellectual property rights come to play.

A "nopin" HTML meta tag was released by Pinterest on 20 February 2012 to allow websites to opt out of their images being pinned. On 24 February 2012, Flickr implemented the code to allow users to opt out.[94]

Pinterest released a statement in March 2012 saying it believed it was protected by the DMCA's safe harbor provisions.[95]

In early May 2012, the site added automatic attribution of authors on images originating from Flickr, Behance, YouTube and Vimeo. Automatic attribution was also added for Pins from sites mirroring content on Flickr. At the same time, Flickr added a Pin shortcut to its share option menu to users who have not opted out of sharing their images.[96]



Pinterest has a three (out of six) star privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[97]

Terms of service

Pinterest's earlier terms of service ambiguously asserted ownership of user content.

A March 2012 article in Scientific American criticized Pinterest's self-imposed ownership of user content stating that "Pinterest's terms of service have been garnering a lot of criticism for stating in no uncertain terms that anything you 'pin' to their site belongs to them. Completely. Wholly. Forever and for always."[98]

At the time, Pinterest's terms of service stated that "By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services."[98] Under these terms all personal, creative and intellectual property posted to the site belonged to the website and could be sold.

A Scientific American blogger pointed out that this contradicted another line in the terms of service, that "Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content".[99]

Several days later, Pinterest unveiled updated terms of service that, once implemented in April, ended the site's previous claims of ownership of posted images.

"Selling content was never our intention", said the company in a blog post.[22][23]

In February 2012, photographer and lawyer Kirsten Kowalski wrote a blog post explaining how her interpretation of copyright law led her to delete all her infringing pins.[100] The post contributed to scrutiny over Pinterest's legal status.[101] The post went viral and reached founder Ben Silbermann who contacted Kowalski to discuss making the website more compliant with the law.[100]

Content creators on sites such as iStock have expressed concern over their work being reused on Pinterest without permission. Getty Images said that it was aware of Pinterest's copyright issues and was in discussion with them.

A meta tag was released by Pinterest in February 2012 to allow websites to opt out of their images being pinned.[102]


Pinterest won the Best New Startup of 2011 at the TechCrunch Crunchies Awards.[103] At the 2012 Webby Awards, Pinterest won Best Social Media App and People's Voice Award for best functioning visual design.[104]

Third-party developers and content

Many third-party developers have created web applications, browser extensions, and even podcasts devoted to Pinterest.

These items range from analytics to enlarging the images on Pinterest's website.


Pinterest is written in a framework built over Flask. Pinterest engineering blogs [105] have more details on how Pinterest builds its product.

Use by scammers

Social engineering of Pinterest users by scammers to propagate surveys promising free products was noted by the computer security firm Symantec in March 2012. Scam images, often branded with a well-known company name like Starbucks, offer incentives such as gift cards for completing a survey. Once the link in the description is clicked, users are taken to an external site and asked to re-pin the scam image. Victims are phished for their personal information and the promised free product is never delivered.[106]



In March 2017, Chinese authorities blocked Pinterest; it is still blocked after the Two Sessions in 2017.

No explanation has been given, but some in the media have speculated that the block related to the Two sessions.[107] Huaban, Duitang and many other websites bear similarities to Pinterest.[108] Pinterest is not blocked in Hong Kong.


Internet service providers in India had blocked Pinterest following a Madras High Court order in July 2016 to block a list of around 225 "rogue websites indulging in online piracy and infringement of copyright". The block was temporary.[109][110]

United States

In February 2019, Pinterest blocked and deleted user accounts, and censored search results on vaccines to remove anti-vaccination content.[111][112] On June 11, 2019, Anti-abortion group Live Action was permanently banned from Pinterest for allegedly spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.[113] Also on June 11, an anonymous whistleblower at Pinterest told Project Veritas that Pinterest had added LiveAction.org to its pornography block list, preventing users from creating pins that link to the website.[114] The anonymous whistleblower also told Project Vertias that Pinterest had banned "bible verses" and other Christian terms, and listed them on its offensive terms list.[114] On June 13, he revealed his full identity.[115]


Data from Pinterest helps provide researches in different areas.

For example, it is possible to find patterns of activity that attract the attention of audience and content reposting, including the extent to which users specialize in particular topics, and homophily among users.[116] Another work focused on studying the characteristics, manifestations and overall effects of user behaviors from various aspects, as well as correlations between neighboring users and the topology of the network structure.[117] There is also study, that based on Pinterest propose novel pinboard recommendation system for Twitter users.[118]

Pinterest data can be also used in quality assessment of Wikipedia articles and their sources in different languages.[119]

See also

  • clipix

  • List of photo-sharing websites

  • Visual marketing

  • Timeline of social media


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