Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Founded by Ben Silbermann, of West Des Moines, Iowa, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp the site is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and inventors. It is one of the “fastest growing social services in the world.”
Pinterest is similar to earlier social, image bookmarking systems based on the same principle, such as David Galbraith’s 2005 project Wists.It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.
Development of Pinterest began in December 2009, and the site launched as a closed beta in March 2010. The site proceeded to operate in invitation-only open beta.
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.
Nine months after launch the website had 10,000 users. Silbermann and a few programmers operated the site out of a small apartment until the summer of 2011.
Early in 2010, the company’s investors and co-founder Ben Silbermann tried to interest a New York-based magazine publishing company in buying Pinterest. The publisher declined to meet with the founders.
The launch of an iPhone app in early March 2011 brought in a more than expected amount of downloads.
On August 16, 2011, Time magazine listed Pinterest in its “50 Best Websites of 2011″ article.
The Pinterest app for iPhone was last updated in May 2012,and an iPad app is currently available for purchase.Pinterest Mobile, launched September 2011, is a version of the website for non-iPhone users.
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. The next month, it drove more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+. The same month, the company was named the best new startup of 2011 by TechCrunch.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.
In January 2012 comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. Pinterest’s wide reach helped it achieve an average of 11 million visits each week in December 2011. Most of the site’s users are female.
At the South By Southwest Interactive conference in March 2012, Silbermann announced revamped profile pages were being developed and would be implemented soon.
On March 23, 2012 Pinterest unveiled updated terms of service that eliminated the policy that gave it the right to sell its users’ content. The terms would go into effect April 6.
According to Experian Hitwise the site became the third largest social network in the United States in March 2012, surpassing Linkedin and Tagged.
Co-founder Paul Sciarra left his position at Pinterest in April 2012 for a consulting job as entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz.
On May 18, 2012 Pinterest is raising $120 million in a funding round expected to be announced Thursday or Friday morning, according to multiple sources. The investment, Pinterest’s third, places the two-year-old social bookmarking site’s valuation in the range of $1 billion to $1.5 billion. All Things Digital reports that Japanese commerce giant Rakuten is leading the round with a $50 million investment. Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s CEO and cofounder, is reportedly still deciding what other financing offers to accept.