Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Pinterest founder dismisses speculation firm will go public

Published 28/04/2016

Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp said remaining private gives the firm more room to innovate
Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp said remaining private gives the firm more room to innovate

The co-founder of Pinterest has dismissed speculation the firm is gearing up to go public as the US technology giant unveiled plans to boost overseas earnings.

Pinterest chief creative officer Evan Sharp said remaining private gives the firm more room to innovate because it does not have to meet the short-term financial targets that comes with an initial public offering (IPO).

Mr Sharp, who worked for Facebook before later co-founding Pinterest with chief executive Ben Silbermann, told the Press Association: "We have no plans to go public right now.

"We raised quite a bit of capital a year back and the idea of that was to be able to have the resources to invest in an aggressive expansion of our offices and our revenue products. I think that will sustain us for quite a while."

The company has raised more than one billion US dollars (£687 million) from investors since it was founded in 2009 and it has a reported valuation of up to eleven billion US dollars (£7.5 billion).

He made the comments as the company moved to bolster its international business by putting "significant investment" into a UK advertising campaign.

The company is also launching its "featured collections" tool for the British market, which provides bespoke content from Pinterest editors, brands and "local tastemakers" including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, TV and radio presenter Fearne Cotton, Topshop and Burberry.

The global push comes after it recently began offering companies the chance to buy advertising on its UK site through "promoted pins" in an effort to increase the amount of money it makes outside the US market.

Mr Sharp added: "Because Pinterest is a unique service, we are not like another messaging app, we are a catalogue of ideas for discovering things relevant to your everyday life.

"It means the play book for how we grow and monetise is one we have to develop from first principles rather than hiring people from similar businesses and copying other company's play books, which is a totally valid way to build a business.

"What that means for us is that we want to give us slightly more time to develop and innovate on how we grow and how we make money, so when we do achieve a level of strategic stability then we can start thinking about getting to a place where our numbers become public every quarter.

"But for now it's the wrong focus. If we start focusing the company on the logistics of going public and quarterly goals, I am worried it is going to get in the way of our medium and long term strategy and vision. So for now, it is not something we think about."

He said Pinterest could finally be considered a global business because the majority of its users now come from outside the United States.

The company, which allows people to share content with each other through online pin boards, said its UK users grew by more than 50% in the past year.

It added that UK companies John Lewis, B&Q and Tesco are among firms which have paid for promoted pins.

But while Pinterest beat its revenue target for last year - growing five times compared to 2014 - Mr Sharp declined to give specific financial information about the firm and how many users it has in the UK.

Mr Sharp said its international expansion will be a success when the website is equally useful to people no matter where they are in the world and what device they are using.

He added: "In terms of user numbers, I do think Pinterest will be useful in every country in the world and so I think we need to not only look at the US growth. We need to treat the United States as just another country, rather than half of our business."

The company employs more than 700 people across the globe and around 15 people in the UK.

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