32. Pinterest

Social media photo bulletin board

Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann, co-founders of Pinterest
Source: Pinterest
Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann, co-founders of Pinterest

Founders: Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp, Ben Silbermann (CEO)
Date launched:
2009
Funding:
$762.5 million
Industries disrupted:
Retail, Social Media
Disrupting: Amazon, Facebook, Google
Competition: Etsy, Piccsy, Shopa

Billed as "the world's bulletin board," Pinterest has racked up more than 40 million followers in the U.S.—mostly women—since it launched four years ago. Users post pictures of anything that interests them, from pets and vacation spots to fashion and home decor.

Venture capital backers—including Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitzclearly love the company: They've invested more than $760 million to date, pushing the company's valuation to $5 billion at press time. Now the online digital scrapbooking site is looking to redefine online advertising.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2014 CNBC DISRUPTOR 50

A select group of marketers, including hotel chain Four Seasons and home decor site Wayfair, are testing paid "pins" on the Pinterest site. Labeled on the bottom as "promoted pins," the ads will be similar to what the brands currently post on the site for free but will have the ability to reach more viewers. If someone is searching for master-bedroom design tips, they could see a paid pin from Wayfair, for instance, that shows an image of a recently renovated bedroom.

As consumers increasingly turn to social media sites for recommendations, reviews and tips, advertisers are smart to follow—and Pinterest is smart to help them on the journey.

How did you come up with your big idea?

"There wasn't a great way to collect the things you love online. From that idea came Pinterest, which over the years has evolved from a site for collecting to a visual discovery engine." -Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO

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