Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, spoke with TechCrunch’s Matthew Lynley about the company’s milestones, future outlook, and its relationship with employees today at Disrupt SF.
Over time, Pinterest has carved out a niche distinct from other social giants like Facebook and Twitter, becoming a visual discovery platform where people get inspirations for their daily life. People often use Pinterest to look up what clothes to wear, where to go for their next vacation, or how to decorate their home.
Recently, the company crossed the 200 million MAU mark, growing both in the US and internationally.
During the discussion, Silbermann shared a lesson learned from their international expansion: each country has specific lifestyle needs and interests. Users in Brazil, for example, like to get inspiration on Pinterest for their next tattoo. To understand different cultures and local needs, Pinterest has set up small teams in various countries to talk to the local users about their experience.
When asked if the company has plans for an IPO in the near future, Silbermann said that Pinterest will remain private for now. The company just raised a $150 million round in June and is currently valued at $12.3 billion. According to its CEO, Pinterest chose to stay private to focus on building its core products and user base.
Besides from its advertising system, Pinterest is working on its visual search technology. The company acquired Visual Graph in 2013 to bring their strong computer vision engineers on board. “Camera might become the next keyboard,” said Silbermann.
Silbermann also revealed to the audience how he keeps his employees motivated in lieu of liquidity.
“We make sure that the stories of people behind the numbers are brought into the building,” said Silbermann. “We make sure the whole company understands how the business is doing and what is the underlying logic.”
For those that think Pinterest is flying under the radar or past its time, Silbermann responded with explanation and some advice for entrepreneurs: “Silicon Valley focuses on very short-term success but a lot of great things take a long time to build. Having a little bit of a long view on certain bets is important if you want to build something new.”