Pinterest's head of engineering leaves for scooter company Lime

  • Pinterest's head of engineering Li Fan is leaving the company.
  • Fan was the former head of Google Image search. She is headed to Lime.
  • Fan leaves as Pinterest is rumored to be considering an IPO by mid-2019.
Li Fan, Pinterest
Source: Pinterest
Li Fan, Pinterest

Pinterest's head of engineering Li Fan is leaving the company to become head of engineering of scooter company Lime, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNBC.

"I joined Pinterest because I saw a rare opportunity to bring together my passions for engineering and art and build products to help hundreds of millions people discover and do what they love," Li said in a statement. "I remain impressed by Pinterest and the unique technical and business opportunities that lay ahead for it. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, and what the team will undoubtedly accomplish as it, the user base and product continue to grow."

Li, who was formerly the head of Google Image search, joined Pinterest in Sept. 2016. She was previously also a vice president of engineering at Baidu. The source said Li wanted to return to a smaller company.

Uber recently partnered Lime, which allows people to rent electric scooters. The rideshare company also has plans to invest in the scooter business during a fundraising round led by Alphabet's GV venture arm. Lime did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pinterest is looking at internal candidates among others but no decision has been made for Li's replacement, the source said.

"As SVP of Engineering, Li made important contributions to Pinterest, including growing the engineering team and leading it through major launches in areas like computer vision and recommendations," a Pinterest spokesperson said in a statement. "We wish her well as she continues on her path and brings her skills to a startup. We’re fortunate to have strong technical leaders to oversee the organization as we grow."

It's a critical time for Pinterest, as it gears up for its potential initial public offering (IPO). Sources with knowledge of the company's business plans said the company is trying to IPO by mid-2019, and has a current valuation of $13 to $15 billion. It also is nearing $1 billion in advertising revenue, doubling what it made last year.