36. Pinterest

100 billion ideas shared

Founders: Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp, Ben Silbermann (CEO)
Launched: 2010
Headquarters: San Francisco
$1.5 billion (PitchBook)
Valuation: $12.3 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Machine learning
e-commerce, social media

George Kavallines | CNBC

There are now 200 million monthly active users on Pinterest, a 50 percent increase from a year ago. They're all over the world, sharing more than 100 billion photos and ideas about the things they love — and love to do. For those who don't consider themselves "pinners," Pinterest enables people to create, collect and share ideas online by "pinning" them to their virtual bulletin boards. Now that the San Francisco-based company is eight years old — and has a valuation of more than $12 billion — it needs to keep proving that it knows what its users want, perhaps even before they do.

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For instance, last year it launched Lens. The product basically allows users to point at an object (a chair, blouse or fruit, for instance) with their smartphone and receive related information about that item on Pinterest. The whole area of computer vision — allowing a computer to look at things the way a person does — is exploding, and Pinterest says it's found a way for it to work in the context of its site. In fact, the company recently hired computer vision veteran Chuck Rosenberg, who had spent 14 years at Google. His new job is basically to slice and dice Pinterest's huge base of content to make sure it's delivering the right information to its users.

Pinterest has raised $1.5 billion to date from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel and Bessemer Venture Partners and is valued at $11 billion. Recode reported that the company's revenue for 2017 was projected to reach $500 million. Pinterest also currently denies any plans for an IPO.