Pinterest has hired former Google and Square executive Francoise Brougher as its first COO

Francoise Brougher
Source: Pinterest
Francoise Brougher

Pinterest just made an important new hire: The visual search company is bringing on Francoise Brougher, a former executive from both Google and Square, to be its first-ever COO.

Brougher has some serious street cred in the tech industry. At Google, where she started in 2005, Brougher eventually led the global sales and operations teams for Google's small-business advertisers. As my colleague Jason Del Rey wrote about Brougher in 2014, it was a role "similar to the one Sheryl Sandberg held [at Google] before she departed for Facebook."

When Brougher joined Square in 2013, she essentially became the company's COO, overseeing sales, partnerships and client acquisition, among other things. Her biggest responsibility was bringing in and maintaining Square's small-business clients. One source familiar with her time at Square says that she played an important role in helping the company solidify its business for an IPO. (Square went public in late 2015.)

Here's how Del Rey described Brougher and her role inside Square in 2014:

To get to the next level — making Square as indispensable to payments as Twitter is to communications — [Square CEO Jack] Dorsey is leaning on Francoise Brougher, a blunt-spoken former Google star with almost no profile outside of the search giant's campus. Insiders say she was known for a rigorous data analysis approach to problem solving and a call-it-like-I-see-it style that rubbed some colleagues the wrong way ... At Square, Brougher will be relied upon to turn the innovative company into a revenue and profits machine.

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Now Brougher is joining Pinterest as COO, which means she'll oversee sales, partnerships, marketing and communications, including business and corporate development. She'll report directly to CEO Ben Silbermann and will serve on Pinterest's executive team.

It's a major hire for a company that appears to be close to its own IPO. Sources close to Pinterest believe that it is aiming to IPO sometime in early- to mid-2019, which would mean starting that IPO process sometime late this year. (These plans could always change, of course.)

Brougher will be tasked with helping to build and establish Pinterest's business during a crucial time for the company, just a few months after Pinterest president and longtime business lead Tim Kendall left. Given Pinterest's visual search capabilities and potential for commerce, Brougher's experience at Google and Square is particularly interesting.

Brougher will start at Pinterest in early March. Her organization will be more than 300 people in total.