SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In its five short years of life, Pinterest has become ‘the’ place where brides-to-be create wish boards of wedding china photos and do-it-yourself home renovators bookmark shiny turquoise tiles for bathrooms. It’s where people share ideas and ingenuity and get creatively inspired. And it’s fueled a new way of searching for items that’s even stolen traffic from tech giant Google.
The San Francisco-based venture capital darling was recently valued at $11 billion. While its core audience has always been female, Pinterest says its popularity is growing faster than ever among men. It is winning in the all-important social-mobile space — the vast majority of “pinners” connect from mobile devices — and is enjoying a healthy expansion overseas.
As Pinterest celebrates its fifth birthday this week — hopefully with perfect bacon cupcakes topped with a single, artisanal beeswax candle — here are five things to know about the site and where it’s headed.
Pinterest had 79.3 million unique visitors in February (the latest data available), up 47 percent from a year earlier, according to Internet research firm comScore. The vast majority were women, but male visitors grew at a much faster clip: 62 percent for men versus 42 percent for women.
Enid Hwang is the company’s community manager and the fourth employee ever hired at Pinterest. She wouldn’t disclose what percentage of users are male but says Pinterest’s male user base in the U.S. has doubled in the past year. She doesn’t think Pinterest is for women any more than it is for men.
“At its most fundamental, we believe that Pinterest is a tool for unlocking people’s creativity,” she says.
Pinterest often gets lumped in with popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but there are plenty of ways that it stands apart. Hwang sees it as more intimate and personal. While Facebook is about sharing what you did, read or saw recently with 400 of your closest “friends,” Pinterest users pin stuff for their own inspiration and benefit. While others can see it, she says Pinterest people are “saving stuff that means a lot to them personally.”
After Pinterest introduced “Place Pins” in late 2013, the vast trove of pinners’ travel-inspired boards became easier for people to find. Users pin photos, links and videos inspired by past trips or travel aspirations. Place Pins are designed to work sort of like an online travel magazine combined with an interactive map.
u There are now more than 50 billion “pins” on Pinterest. One billion boards have been created.
u About two-thirds of the content on its site was created by brands. “If we were in the magazine business, (that) would be 50 billion pages being ripped out and referenced,” says Joanne Bradford, head of partnerships at Pinterest.
u Earlier this year, Pinterest raised $367 million that valued the company at $11 billion. It says it may raise as much as $211 million more, and plans to use the more than half a billion dollars for international expansion and other corporate purposes.