From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pinterest Logo.svg
Founder(s) Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp, andBen Silbermann
Employees 300+ employees[1]
Alexa rank Increase 23 (September 2014)[2]
Type of site Visual discovery, collection, and storage tool
Advertising no advertisements are displayed, however, companies have pinboards displaying their product(s)
Registration Required for full functionality
Available in English, Bokmål, Norwegian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Bemba
Launched March 2010; 4 years ago
Current status Active

Pinterest is a web and mobile application company that offers a visual discovery, collection, sharing, and storage tool. Users create and share the collections of visual bookmarks (boards). Boards are created through a user selecting an item, page, website, etc. and pinning it to an existing or newly created board. Users save and share pins from multiple resources onto boards based on a plethora of criteria, e.g., similar characteristics, a theme, birthday parties, planning a vacation, writing a book, interior decorating, holidays. Boards can develop projects, organize events, or save pictures and data together. The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. It is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and investors.[3]


Design as of May 2012.

Pinterest is a free website, which requires registration to use.[4] Users can upload, save, sort, and manage images—known as pins—and other media content (e.g., videos and images) through collections known as pinboards.[5] Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform. Users can browse the content of others on the main page. Users can then save individual pins to one of their own boards using the “Pin It” button, with Pinboards typically organized by a central topic or theme. Users can personalize their experience with Pinterest by pinning items, creating boards, and interacting with other members. By doing so, the users “pin feed” displays unique, personalized results.

Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the “Pin It” button, which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser,[6] or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website. They also have the option of sending a pin to other Pinterest users and email accounts through the “Send” button. Some websites include red and white “pin it” buttons on items, which allow Pinterest users to pin them directly.

Initially, there were several ways to register a new Pinterest account. Potential users could either receive an invitation from an already registered friend, or they could request an invitation directly from the Pinterest website that could take some time to receive. An account can also be created and accessed by linking Pinterest to a Facebook or Twitter profile. When a user re-posts or re-pins an image to their own board, they have the option of notifying their Facebook and Twitter followers; this feature can be managed on the settings page.[7]

On the main Pinterest page, a “pin feed” appears, displaying the chronological activity from the Pinterest boards that a user follows.[8] When browsing for new boards and relevant pins, users can visit a “Tastemakers” page that recommend pinboards with content similar to previous pins saved by a user.[5] For both guests and Pinterest users, there are currently four main sections to browse: everything, videos, popular, and gifts.

Quick links to Pinterest include the “pin it” button that can be added to the bookmark bar of a web browser, “Follow me” and “Pin it” buttons added to personal website or blog page,[6] and the Pinterest iPhone application available through theApp Store.[9]

Users should be aware of certain terms and functions when using Pinterest. A “board” is where the user’s pins are located. Users can have several boards for various items such as quotes, travel or, most popularly, weddings. A “pin” is an image that has either been uploaded or linked from a website. Once users create boards and add pins, other users can nowrepin, meaning they can pin one user’s image to their board as well.[10] Once the user has set up their account and boards, they can browse, comment, and like other pins. If a user wants to turn an image online into a “pin,” there are a few simple steps to do so. First, the user must select the image to pin. Second, the user then clicks on the “Add +” button on Pinterest. Third, the user enters an image URL into the link box. Next, the user selects the exact image they want to pin, and place it on the designated board. Users can then describe the pin and share it via Twitter or Facebook. Other users can now click on the pin to see which board the image is pinned in, who pinned the image previously, where the original pin is from, and who has liked, commented, or repinned the image. Pinterest has also added the option of making boards “secret” so that the user can pin to and view boards that only the user can see when logged into their own account. People normally post “selfies” and things they have made. A user can find friends by using his or her Facebook and Twitter accounts. This allows for an easy flow of information through varying infrastructures.

The website has proven especially popular among women.[11] According to Nielsen, in 2012 the U.S. female audience of Pinterest accessing the website through the computer was 70%.[12] The average Pinterest user spent about 90 minutes per month on the website in 2012.[13] The most popular categories on Pinterest are food & drink, DIY & crafts, women’s apparel, home decor, and travel.[14]

Users should also keep in mind that Pinterest stores actual copies (not just thumbnails and links) of the images being pinned. This has caused controversy with regards to copyright issues for photographers. The technical underpinnings of Pinterest are not unique: Pinterest uses Amazon S3 cloud storage (running at large datacenters) and data deduplication.

Pinboards can be used by educators to plan lessons. Teachers can pin sites for later referral. Students can pin and organize sources and collaborate on projects.[15]

Pinterest has 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.[16]

Pinterest does not generate its own content; rather, it draws from many resources around the web and compiles them in one convenient location for users. By transferring information from restricted access to a more open public sphere, information transaction costs have decreased drastically.

The items users pin define their identities and boards they view. Pinterest then modifies a user’s homepage to reflect toward his or her interests. However, similar to other online algorithms (e.g. YouTube and Google), this effort to personalize has its drawbacks. By only being shown items users are comfortable with, users are unexposed to foreign ideas. Many users are unaware of the personalization.

Business pages[edit]

Pinterest also allows businesses to create pages aimed at promoting their companies online.[17] 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.[18] Further brand studies have continued to show Pinterest is more effective at driving sales than other forms of social media.[19] 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.[20]

User data[edit]

Like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest now lets marketers access the data collected on its users. Technology providers including SalesforceHootsuite, 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.[21] 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.[22] According to Salesforce, 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, however it has recently substantially increased to about 23 percent.[23] People use social media sites like Pinterest to direct or guide their choices in products. However, at this time, the data collected from Pinterest is predominantly from female users. A recent study found that 80% of Pinterest users are women.[24] 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.[25] 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. Pinspinnersrepins, 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.[26] Companies also can add their own ideas and features to explore how consumers respond to a product, like the Pinterest Trends product, Piqora. Piquora is a visual analytics and marketing provider for specifically visual social networking sites including Tumblr,Instagram, and Pinterest. Marketer’s use Piqora’s Pinterest Trends to analyze a brand’s performance against competitors on Pinterest.[27]


Globally, the site is most popular with women. In 2012, a report found that 83% of the global users were women.[28] Britain, however, is an exception. As of March 2012, 56% of the users were male and their age profile was different too, being about 10 years younger than in the U.S., where the predominant age range was typically 35-44.[29] In terms of age distribution, the Pinterest demographic closely resembles the U.S. Internet population.[30]


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.[31] 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.[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]

Pinterest generates its first revenue this year, when it begins 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]


Pinterest first conceptualized in December 2009 by co-founders 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.

Although the founders of Pinterest have not cited any specific influences, a number of companies preceded Pinterest in the development of visual bookmarking, including Yelp co-founder David Galbraith’s invention of Wists in 2005, and later sites such as ThisNext and Stylehive.

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

Retail companies use Pinterest for advertising and style trending. Pinterest intends the 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” and “Everybody in Gap.”

Baynote founder Scott Brave sees Pinterest as an ideal environment to collect affinity data; a resource that holds the potential for substantial demand and income. This data “reveals valuable relationships between consumer behaviours, products and content,” where it can be collected and sold as marketing analysis.

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.

Copyrighted content[edit]

Pinterest has a notification system that copyright holders can use to request that content be removed from the site. TheDigital 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 copyrighted material. Because Pinterest allows user to transfer information, intellectual property rights come to play. Pinterest’s system is in line with Nicolas de Condorcet’s view that the public’s interest in knowledge trumps the author’s property rights. Pinterest promotes the flow of information.

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 their photos.

Pinterest released a statement in March 2012 saying it believed it was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions. No major copyright lawsuits have emerged as of March 2012.

In early May 2012, the site added automatic attribution of authors on images originating from Flickr, BehanceYouTubeand 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.


Founder Ben Silbermann (left) at theSouth by Southwest Interactive conference in March 2012.

Further information: Timeline of Pinterest

Pinterest allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. The evolution of Pinterest is based on the shared interest of its users and relies on its members to produce the content. The most popular categories, as of March 2012, were home, arts and crafts, style/fashion, and food.[38]

Development of Pinterest began in December 2009, and the site launched as aclosed 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.[39]

Nine months after the 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.[39]

Early in 2010, the company’s investors and co-founder Ben Silbermann tried to encourage a New York-based magazine publishing company to buy Pinterest but the publisher declined to meet with the founders.[40]

The launch of an iPhone app in early March 2011, brought in a more than expected number of downloads.[40]

On 16 August 2011, Time magazine listed Pinterest in its “50 Best Websites of 2011” article.[41]

The Pinterest app for iPhone was last updated in March 2013,[42] and the iPad app was launched August 2011.[43]Pinterest Mobile, launched September 2011, is a version of the website for non-iPhone users.[44]

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.[45] The next month, it drove more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedInYouTube, andGoogle+.[46][47] The same month, the company was named the best new startup of 2011 by TechCrunch.[48] Noted entrepreneurs and investors include: Jack Abraham, Michael BirchScott Belsky, Brian Cohen, Shana Fisher, Ron ConwayFirstMark Capital, Kevin Hartz, Jeremy Stoppelman, Hank Vigil, and Fritz Lanman.[49]

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.[31] Pinterest’s wide reach helped it to 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.[39]

On 23 March 2012, Pinterest unveiled updated terms of service that eliminated the policy that gave it the right to sell its users’ content.[50] The terms would go into effect April 6.[51]

According to Experian Hitwise, the site became the third largest social network in the United States in March 2012, behind Facebook and Twitter.[52]

Co-founder Paul Sciarra left his position at Pinterest in April 2012 for a consulting job as entrepreneur in residence atAndreessen Horowitz.[53]

On 17 May 2012, Japanese electronic commerce company Rakuten announced it was leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest, alongside investors including Andreessen HorowitzBessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, based on a valuation of $1.5 billion.[54][55]

On 10 August 2012, Pinterest no longer required a request or an invitation to join the site.[56] In addition, the Pinterest app for Android and iPad was also launched on August 14, 2012.[57]

On September 20, 2012 Pinterest announced the hiring of its new head of engineering, Jon Jenkins. Jenkins came fromAmazon, where he spent eight years as an engineering lead and was also a director of develop tools, platform analysis and website platform.[58]

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.”[59] Also in October, Pinterest launched business accounts allowing businesses to either convert their existing personal accounts into business accounts, or start from scratch.[60]

In March 2013, Pinterest acquired Livestar. Terms were not disclosed.[61]

In October 2013, Pinterest acquired Hackermeter. The company’s co-founders, Lucas Baker and Frost Li, joined Pinterest as engineers.[62]

In October 2013, Pinterest won a $225 million round of equity funding that valued the website at $3.8 billion.[63]


Terms of service[edit]

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.”[64] 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.”[64] Under these terms all personal, creative and intellectual property posted to the site belonged to the website and could be sold. A Scientific Americanblogger 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.”[65]

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.[50][51]

Legal status[edit]

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.[66] The post contributed to scrutiny over Pinterest’s legal status.[67]The post went viral and reached founder Ben Silbermann who contacted Kowalski to discuss making the website more compliant with the law.[66]

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.

meta tag was released by Pinterest in February 2012 to allow websites to opt out of their images being pinned.[68]


Pinterest won the Best New Startup of 2011 at the TechCrunch Crunchies Awards[69] At the 2012 Webby Awards, Pinterest won best social media app and people’s voice award for best functioning visual design.[66]

Third-party developers and content[edit]

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 with Django, a web application framework that uses the Python programming language.[70]

Use by scammers[edit]

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 likeStarbucks, 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.[71]

Other scammers capitalized on the lack of an official Google Play app. Low-quality Pinterest apps purporting to be official have appeared that generate ad revenue or monitor the downloader’s activity.[72] There is now an official Pinterest app for Android devices.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

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