Posted on Tuesday, Aug 22nd 2017
Many believed that content discovery app, Pinterest, was looking to go public soon. But recent reports reveal that Pinterest may have delayed its IPO plans to the next year, at least. Meanwhile, the company’s Billion Dollar Unicorn status continues to thrive.
San Francisco-based Pinterest allows users to create, discover, share and collect online scrapbooks. It was launched in 2009 and within 9 months, its user base grew to 17 million monthly active users. More recently, its user base has grown to more than 175 million users.
It is only in the last three years that Pinterest began focusing on monetizing this user base. It earns revenues through ad sales that are generated through Promoted Pins. The Pins let consumers purchase products directly from Pinterest’s partners. Users can see prices, select products and buy those products with the click of a button. After testing the product, Pinterest opened its ad sales platform to all merchants. Since Promoted Pins look like regular pins, they do not distract the user’s attention. Pinterest claims that more than 75% of pins that are saved to Pinterest come from businesses.
Pinterest is privately held and does not disclose detailed financials. It is currently targeting revenues of more than $500 million this year. Some believe that it could earn as much as $600 million this year. It is expected to have earned revenues of $300 million last year and $100 million in 2015. Analysts believe that Pinterest is already profitable.
Recently, Pinterest released a new feature called Lens. Lens allows the users to use their camera to search for similar looking decor, clothing, and food in the real world. Users can point their camera at an image and Pinterest will show them similar styles and ideas.
Pinterest is not alone in the visual search segment. Recently listed Snap also released a new feature that uses image recognition to recognize the faces and then applies filters, emoji, and other special effects to these photographs. But now it is integrating augmented reality-like support for recognizing landscapes and objects with the camera.
Alphabet has also built an image recognition tool for smartphone cameras that was released earlier this year. Alphabet’s offering, also called Lens, integrates Google’s computer vision and AI technology to understand what the camera is seeing and offer search results and other information to the user.
Pinterest may find it difficult to compete with the might of Alphabet on its own. I still believe that an acquisition by Amazon may be interesting.
Pinterest is venture funded with $1.5 billion in funding from individual investors and funds including Valiant Capital Partners, FirstMark Capital, Fidelity Investments, Bessemer Venture Partners, SV Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, Slow Ventures, Rakuten, Jack Abraham, Max Levchin, Kevin Hartz, Michael Birch, New York Angels, William Lohse, Jeremy Stoppelman, Wellington Management, and Goldman Sachs. Its last round of funding was held in June this year when it raised $150 million in a private listing at an undisclosed valuation. Analysts expect the company to be valued close to $12.3 billion now, compared with $11 billion valuation in 2015. The recent funding round suggests that Pinterest may have delayed plans to list, for now. Some believe that it may go public in 2018.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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