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:
$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.


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


Latest Special Reports

  • CNBC's annual study measures all 50 states on more than 60 different metrics.

  • A look at 50 private companies set to reshape the business landscape.

  • Aerial view of containers and cargo ships at the Port of Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2022 in San Pedro, California.

    In an era of rapid technological advances and demographic change, how do legacy companies adapt, innovate and evolve? CNBC Evolve features iconic global companies and executives who are embracing change and transforming for the future.