Pinterest is certainly a more understated Silicon Valley unicorn, with a product that is much more wholesome than other places we tend to spend our time online, like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram, helping the company avoid the sort of negative headlines that have dogged those companies this year.
“I think one of the reasons we have been lucky to not be involved in some of those conversations is that people are using Pinterest for very different reasons, very different purposes,” Evan Sharp, cofounder and chief product officer at Pinterest told Techworld this week as part of a session during Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
“It’s not that we are perfect but because of that we have to value our brand and the environment we create really highly, we have to make sure that it feels safe and free from judgement or extreme controversy for the product to function, and secondly it’s something we care a lot about and invest resources in to try and do our best to monitor and remediate.”
On Pinterest a community ‘pins’ sharable images – cat pictures, home furnishing ‘inspo’, vegan recipes – to pinboards. These pins are then linked out to products, making Pinterest the best-disguised ecommerce site on the internet.
It’s an approach that is quietly working, with the company valued at $12 billion and a rumoured IPO on the horizon. It counts 250 million monthly active users, pinning 175 billion items on 3 billion virtual pinboards.
Pinterest has been able to create an aesthetic bubble for its users, a welcome refuge for hundreds of millions of people from the constant barrage of bad news and worse opinions (to steal the New Yorker’s Mark O’Connell’s turn of phrase this week) of Twitter and fake news on Facebook.