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Pinterest Raises $100 MM at $1.5Bn Valuation (allthingsd.com)
148 points by forgot_password 707 days ago | comments


petercooper 707 days ago | link

2005: Yahoo acquired Flickr for $35m, Delicious for $15-20m; 2012: Pinterest is now valued at $1500m, Instagram at $1000m.

I'd rather have 75 del.icio.us's than 1 Pinterest but.. I readily admit I'm getting old ;-) So my question is, did the folks 7 years ago get a bad deal or are the valuations now over the top?

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runako 707 days ago | link

>> did the folks 7 years ago get a bad deal or are the valuations now over the top?

More likely Option 3: Vastly more people are connected to the Internet, which now has far superior paths to monetization.

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petercooper 707 days ago | link

I imagine there is some of that involved but perhaps more importantly is the overall usage of the Internet by those people (i.e. time spent online, using mobile devices, etc)?

On the people count front, Google's numbers show %-wise between 2006 and 2010 we went from 68.21% to 79.3% population wise (and population generally went up 4%) so there was a growth in the user base but not one to justify 40x growth in value on similar headlining companies IMHO.

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runako 707 days ago | link

I think we may be talking about two different sets of numbers. It sounds like you're quoting GOOG's penetration into US (or OECD) total population. (I'm guessing from the percentages.)

I'm saying that the aggregate number of people using the Internet has grown much, much faster. I don't have exact numbers handy, but it's certainly possible that the total Internet population has grown more than 100% over this period.

You also raise an interesting point about frequency of usage, which would also contribute to valuations.

In 2012 it doesn't require huge leaps to see how a company Pinterest rapidly could get to revenue numbers that support this valuation. At YHOO's current revenue-multiple-margin mix, this would imply revenues of around $400m-$500m. I don't know what their revenues are now, but given their growth and reach I'd be surprised if investors didn't pay a higher multiple for Pinterest than for YHOO.

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jarek 707 days ago | link

Total number of people using the internet seems like a questionable metric for valuating U.S.-based internet startups, most of which (understandably given their business stage) focus primarily on the U.S. and maybe OECD for feature development, user base growth, and monetization. It's currently a bit laughable to imagine Pinterest monetizing their Nigerian and Indonesian user bases. Is there any particular datapoint that would lead us to believe their userbase significantly extends or will extend beyond the OECD?

It's like valuating a paper products company by the total number of people in the world. Sure, they all might be able to or even want to use a paper product, but what's important when making the call is the company's ability to sell to them while still making money.

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robryan 707 days ago | link

People are also far more comfortable spending online now, this helps both in directly monetizing users an the amount people will pay for ads.

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joshu 707 days ago | link

versus 2006? i doubt it's more than double the number.

maybe it's the comfort level of the audience that helps with monetization?

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waterlesscloud 707 days ago | link

Comfort level is a good point. I think a lot of that is directly attributable to Facebook, oddly enough.

I'm fairly certain Pinterest never would have taken off if most of their users didn't have a couple of years of Facebook under their belts.

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tatsuke95 706 days ago | link

But the 2005 valuations should have accounted for the fact that by 2012 there would be far more internet usage, and priced it in accordingly. In fact, like many things, they could have over-estimated internet usage. I doubt they were saying in 2005, "well, this is all the people who will ever use the internet!"

Anyway, I think the OP here is spot on. It's not that these companies are crap or worthless. It's the size of these valuations. We throw around billions like it's nothing now, when less than 10 years ago it was rare to see valuations 1/10th of that. Name something else that had it's value grow so greatly over such a short period of time. Houses maybe?

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emmett 707 days ago | link

Delicious was far smaller than pinterest is today. And unlike pinterest, it did not have an excellent monetization option attached. Not really comparable.

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joshu 707 days ago | link

Any sense of how big pinterest currently is?

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jamiequint 707 days ago | link

A few months ago they had one board and auto followed all their users to it. That board had around 21M registered users. Comscore put them at 17.8M uniques in February.

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joshu 706 days ago | link

Hm. Delicious had ~ 7m registered when I left. Maybe not so different in size.

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cletus 707 days ago | link

Well I'm going to head off the predictable and boring "bubble" comments and say this:

Pinterest has real value and a clear path to monetization through affiliate and/or advertising revenue. It's really a stupidly simple idea (essentially scrapbooking on the Web) executed incredibly well.

Is it worth $1.5B? I don't know. I would say it's definitely worth more than Instagram for whatever that's worth (not a lot). I guess we'd need stats on number of active users, engagement and revenue to make that determination--something we're not likely to get.

The only concerning point to me is that that it's foreign money, only because foreign money seems to be less discerning, at least based on DST and similar investments.

Anyway, congrats to the team. They've done exceptionally well.

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stroboskop 707 days ago | link

Well I'm going to head off the predictable and boring "bubble" comments and say this

Saying that predictably gets you upvotes for sure. But it's not about "bubble" comments being "boring" or not. The question is whether bubble claims have any substance. If they have, the bubble won't simply go away just because some people wish it would.

Is it worth $1.5B? I don't know. I would say it's definitely worth more than...

Comparisons like this are inflationary. It seems you really don't care about bubbles. But a bubble would affect many people here at HN.

It doesn't matter whether bubble comments are boring or not, it's about the importance of a bubble.

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heyitsnick 707 days ago | link

Sounds to me like he just wants to add something different to the discussion rather that the inevitable "it's a bubble", and for that it made an interesting comment that deserves an upvote.

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madaxe 707 days ago | link

Bingo. Valuations should be based on.... drumroll profits and retained value - EBITDA. When we started basing valuations on arbitrary "well if facebook are $100bn, X must be $y", we set sail for another glorious future of people losing their shirts.

Frankly, it just pisses me off - we're a profitable business which has grown 150% YOY for 6 years, and our value is barely £3M, based on our profits and growth. Why an infant company with little discernable revenue should have an astronomical value is beyond me.

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jon_dahl 706 days ago | link

You're ultimately right, though future EBITDA (or future dividends) is more interesting than current EBITDA. Otherwise a pre-launch startup with no revenue and interesting technology would be worth $0, and a declining company with $1B of EBITDA would be worth the same as a growing company with $1B.

The question is whether Instagram can eventually contribute enough to Facebook's bottom line to justify the $1B valuation. Its current (lack of) revenues obviously don't get it there, but it's the future that matters.

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arethuza 706 days ago | link

Valuations are based on what someone else might pay - and they might pay a few billion for Pinterest.

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grey-area 706 days ago | link

That's precisely the sort of bubble economics that the parent was objecting to. The objection is to speculation as opposed to investment - investment expects a steady return based on real profits/assets, speculation expects a greater fool to come along later and pay more for this asset, regardless of what it might actually be worth based on revenue/assets alone.

In a bubble (tulips, houses, stock markets) there seems to be an unending supply of greater fools, until all of a sudden there isn't, and someone (who of course expected to find some other fool to sell to) is left picking up the tab for assets which are now close to worthless.

If your valuations are based on what someone else might pay in future, you are speculating, and will be lucky if you manage to get out before other people realise the assets you have bought are not worth $1B or whatever you paid for them. If on the other hand you bought because there is a steady income stream from an investment which will eventually pay off the investment and add returns, and thus underpins the price, you don't have to worry about whether this is a bubble or not.

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arethuza 706 days ago | link

"If your valuations are based on what someone else might pay in future, you are speculating"

Isn't that what angels and VCs always do then?

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grey-area 706 days ago | link

Pretty much, yes, though you could argue that the best ones speculate not on what others will be prepared to pay for a company in the future, but on what they think a company could earn.

Pinterest, Instagram etc will likely never earn enough to pay back their current crazy valuations, so their valuations are the first kind of speculation, not the latter. Personally I feel Facebook is also in this group, and is overvalued right now, given their current and likely future revenue.

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chucknelson 706 days ago | link

Agreed. We can't justify these prices by going "well, that is the perceived value by population X, so it's OK!". Sure, market forces are fine, but when market forces start to be influenced more by hype and popularity than actual business fundamentals, we should shake ourselves and snap out of it.

This has already happened so many times in different markets and the SAME market in the late 90s. I guess it's human nature to just fall in the same trap eventually? Money makes us foolish?

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wtvanhest 706 days ago | link

Frankly, it just pisses me off - we're a profitable business which has grown 150% YOY for 6 years, and our value is barely £3M, based on our profits and growth. Why an infant company with little discernable revenue should have an astronomical value is beyond me.

Having a £3M business is insanely awesome. If you want an answer to your question about why your business isn't worth $1.5B, please give detials on your business and people will surely tell you.

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strlen 707 days ago | link

The other interesting part about Pinterest is that they mostly gained traction outside of the traditional early adopter segments.

Not sure any what's the right way to value this kind of company: obviously if it was an established public company, a $1.5b figure might be scary (as far as I understand Pinterest does not yet have revenue). However, it isn't: venture capitalists valued it this high, in the hopes that there's a realistic (compared to similar companies, funded at the same stage) chance that they will have a $7.5b-$15b exit.

It _would_ be a sign of bubble if Pinterest were to go public without revenue (which has happened during the 1990s) , with pension funds (that have a very different risk/reward profile from VCs) buying the shares. You could say "it's 1999 again" if as a result Sun (hey anyone remember them?), Cisco, and Oracle stock rose exorbitantly as a result of Pinterest buying a record number of servers, routers, and commercial databases (hey, remember when companies used to do that?) and their shareholders expecting (with great certainty) that there will be more and more companies like Pinterest sprouting up, i.e., that sales will keep growing.

I've only caught the tail end of the bubble (I had an internship in a startup junior/senior year of HS, 2000-2002 -- and participated in SVLUG, meeting folks who worked for Webvan, RedHat, Va Linux, et al).

I still remember just how differently it felt from today: for starters you couldn't drive from Sunnyvale to Fremont (over the bridge) without being completely stuck in traffic (as early as 3pm, and as late as after 8pm), and without driving past at least 3 or 4 Sun campuses.

Nowadays: there is still commercial real-estate in that area that is empty (including the former Sun East Bay campus, where manufacturing happened), the Dunbarton Bridge is fairly traffic-free even during the rush hour.

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waterlesscloud 707 days ago | link

There may be signs it's not a bubble, but is traffic one of them? Part of the deal now is that it just takes fewer people to run a startup than it did then.

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k-mcgrady 707 days ago | link

>> (as far as I understand Pinterest does not yet have revenue)

They use a service which scans all links on the site and where possible converts them to affiliate links (they don;t change affiliate links users have set). So if someone pins an Amazon product and another user clicks through and buys that Pinterest is getting a cut. So Pinterest is already making money. I have no idea how much but it seems like it could provide a decent revenue stream.

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andrewhillman 707 days ago | link

I think they stopped using skimlinks a few months ago.

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joshuahedlund 706 days ago | link

And they started stripping user affiliate links (at least to amazon) about a month ago (aka soon after the story came out about the guy spamming pinterest for thousands a day). I know, it's hard to keep up!

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k-mcgrady 706 days ago | link

Wow, things move fast. I thought they only started using skimlinks a few months ago! Thanks.

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jdavid 706 days ago | link

pinterest was profitable before the court case that made it more difficult to use skimlinks.

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Alex3917 707 days ago | link

"Essentially scrapbooking on the Web"

A better analogy is probably delicious for women, at least in terms of having a mental framework to estimate the value.

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joshu 707 days ago | link

oh, if only.

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zackzackzack 706 days ago | link

^ This may be the hardest I have ever laughed at something from Hacker News.

Context: joshu founded Delicious.

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runako 707 days ago | link

Or more neutrally (and accurately): delicious with pictures.

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Alex3917 707 days ago | link

The userbase is 80% women, and the percentage of active users who are women is probably even greater. Not sure of the demographics of delicious, but I'd guess roughly the inverse.

Also, the fact that the userbase is mostly women is materially important in valuating the business, since female users are generally worth much more than male users.

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runako 707 days ago | link

The functionality of Pinterest is gender-neutral. What makes it "delicious for women", other than that more women (in the US) use it right now?

According to Wikipedia, more men than women use Pinterest in the UK (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pintrest#Demographics).

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Alex3917 707 days ago | link

IIRC in the US women drive about 80% of purchases, meaning each female user is worth several times what each male user is worth. In terms of communicating the value of the business to investors, the fact that the userbase is mostly female is arguably the most important aspect of the site.

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rudiger 706 days ago | link

I've heard this figure cited before. Do you have a source? Also, is it true for online purchases, or just consumer spending in general?

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Alex3917 706 days ago | link

I don't have a good cite, I believe it's supposedly all purchases though. Not sure how accurate it is, but my understanding is that sites with a lot of women do have vastly better clickthrough rates and conversion on their ads so it's not entirely apocryphal.

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teyc 707 days ago | link

+1 scrapbooking is a fad, bookmarking is a sign of interest.

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tommorris 706 days ago | link

But I'd say Pinterest-style scrapbooking is a type of bookmarking, a visual style of bookmarking. And a lot of the things people get excited and interested in are at least in part visual: fashion, lifestyle goods, home and garden projects, wedding day stuff, arts and crafts, food and drink, cars etc.

I'm just looking at the comments on items on the Pinterest homepage: "Love this!", "WANT IT", "available now on Etsy", "Gift ideas", "can someone give me a link where i can buy it online". It's a veritable treasure trove of consumer information for people in the right markets. And it has just enough pictures of hot men, cute baby pictures and occasional silly memes to remain interesting.

Yes, it appeals more to women (and some gay men and arty types and so on), but in the right hands, it's a powerful tool for understanding and supplying the needs and wants of a significant market segment.

There's an interesting possibility for doing some kind of content partnership: imagine Pinterest TV, discussing all sorts of fashion and lifestyle stuff, with partnerships with existing media and retail brands - think Mumsnet or L'Oreal or Vogue or MTV...

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mtjl79 707 days ago | link

I do agree with you - this possibly has real potential.

BUT I think they need more time to answer these questions:

- Is this a fad, or is Pinterest here to stay? - Can they really pump up revenues the way they think they can? And can they do it fast?

It's like buying condoms before the first date. (Sorry for the inappropriate inference.)

I just feel like they needed more time and history before pulling in these types of numbers.

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kenrikm 707 days ago | link

It's like buying condoms before the first date. (Sorry for the inappropriate inference.)

Am I the only one that thinks that's a good idea? Seriously, people in cars cause accidents, accidents in cars cause people.

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AJ007 707 days ago | link

When I first saw Pinterest's exponential traffic growth sequence, it altered the way I believed women think.

But at the end of the day, its just a very well executed image board, marketed to women. The concept in itself is not a fad, but they may need to add features that make a user feel penalized for moving elsewhere. (e.g. the network effect from Facebook, or a users library with Kindle)

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DanBC 706 days ago | link

> clear path to monetization through affiliate

Pinterest tried affiliate links with Skimlinks. They didn't have a great time, and they've dropped skimlinks.

Personally, I think they should work out a way to try it again.

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kefeizhou 706 days ago | link

These "bubble" comments may become self-fulfilling. Even if there's no substance behind the claims, enough talk of a possible bubble can shift investor and consumer mentality and end up causing a bubble down the line.

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zevyoura 706 days ago | link

How does that work? I would think that people yelling "Bubble!" about any investment would decrease investor demand in that area, other than a minority of people who are dumb enough to think they can time an exit pre-bubble-burst.

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its_so_on 707 days ago | link

Let me help you out with this part "Is it worth $1.5B?"

If you are left holding the bag, and they have to generate 1.5B in sales over their lifetime from this money to make it a worthwhile investment, then no: pinterest will never accrue 1.5B in revenue over its lifetime.

If you are not left holding the bag and this bubble keeps inflating, yes. It's easy to see how Pinterest can raise money at an even higher valuation with just a little more "spectacular" growth. (It's not really spectacular. More like a fad.)

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emmett 707 days ago | link

On what basis could you not have said the exact same thing about Facebook 5 years ago?

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its_so_on 707 days ago | link

I don't remember where I was five years ago and what Facebook was saying, but if you look at this graph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Facebook_popularity.PNG at 2007, and remember what Facebook is (since day 1), it's pretty easy to see Facebook making the argument that it will be used by pretty much everyone, everywhere. It's pretty obvious that pinterest has no such claim. That is one such basis.

Other such bases include network effects that come with the whole Facebook model (what it is, i.e. social graph) and that in some way it may even be a "natural monopoly". (People completely miss this when comparing it to myspace, which was never a literal, programmatic social graph).

Finally, again I don't know where this was five years ago, but credibility and buy-in based on how Facebook rolled out (Harvard, universities, etc...) may have been a factor.

Also due to the Facebook model it doesn't make sense for ANYONE to start a profile on a site that doesn't have any profiles on it. It's all about having friends on there. By contrast, Pinterest has already been ripped off by the German Pinspire: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/pinspire_the_hottest_ne...

If I want to sign up on Pinterest, I can sign up on Pinspire and it still makes SOME sense. (As opposed to signing up to a competitor to Facebook when all my friends are on Facebook).

So, there are several bases that I could have used to put Facebook at a completely different valuation.

Mark my words: (you can bookmark this). Pinterest will not make 1.5Billion in revenue over its whole lifetime, unless the bubble keeps expanding and it gets at a similar amount of cold, hard cash to spend on customer acquisition: the "Groupon model". (Which I consider possible! See my comment you replied to. I am definitely not saying that it can't get another investment at a 50 billion dollar valuation and make the people who just invested 200 million very, very happy. Nor am I saying it won't be able to use the fifty billion dollar valuation. I am saying that, indeed, it depends on it - or will never be able to justify the 1.5billion valuation it just received.)

In other words, yes, I am saying that it will not be able to turn the 200 million it just raised into 1.5 billion cash over its whole lifetime, without raising more money.

You might disagree with me, but at least I am being direct and not wishy-washy. You can falsify me soon enough if you are right.

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jamiequint 707 days ago | link

You're being pedantic about the 5 year thing, if anything Pinterest's current growth outpaces that of Facebook. At 2 years old they're sitting at somewhere around 30M users, even Facebook didn't grow that quickly (per your own graph).

In addition, Pinterest sits much closer to transactions than Facebook does. Facebook currently makes around $5/user/year, just given Pinterest's proximity to the transaction its relatively easy to imagine how they could hit a 3-5x multiple of that. It's feasible that Pinterest could hit Facebook style revenues at 1/4 of Facebook's userbase, and they are already 1/30th of the way there. With this investment thesis $1.5BN is a hell of a deal.

Right now I think there are only two real major risks (neither of which I personally believe to be true): 1. Pinterest may be a fad with no staying power. 2. Pinterest has a much smaller target demographic than Facebook and their growth may soon cap out.

With regards to your argument about Pinspire that's just bogus. There were plenty of Facebook clones that got early traction in other markets, none of them won.

You may be direct, but you're getting down voted because your 'argument' is nonexistent and lacks any real substance. (For one, no pure software company is taking a 1x multiple) The reality is that Pinterest is probably already undervalued at $1.5BN and barring the risks above coming to fruition has a real shot at becoming worth $25BN+ within 5-7 years based on revenues alone.

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objclxt 707 days ago | link

I don't think the OP is being pedantic: you're wrong to compare the first two years of Facebook with Pinterest.

For one thing, Facebook was .edu limited for its first two years, so its growth was constrained. Rather than that, look at Facebook's growth from 2007-2009.

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mccon104 706 days ago | link

Why is everyone in such a rush to compare this to facebook? I believe emmett was just trying to point out that OP's argument was essentially "they're not going to make $1.5b ever, trust me". Which frankly sounds a lot like "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame."

To give such a definitive "never" answer and say their only hope is if the "bubble keeps inflating" without offering a shred of evidence makes you sound like any critic of anything that has ever gone big.

If you're going to educate me re: the valuation, then by all means educate me. Don't give me some confidently worded finite opinion and expect to pass it off as fact.

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tommorris 706 days ago | link

Hey, Pinterest being cloned by Pinspire? Google "pinterest for porn". It's an easy enough model to clone. So is Flickr and Wikipedia (hey, they'll give you the software for free!) and lots of other sites, but it's hard to recreate the same passionate community.

I think the important value that Pinterest has is the community of pinners and their collective aggregated opinions. That community has the potential to actually be quite a useful testbed and market research mechanism (or even sales channel) for a lot of consumer brands. Maybe not $1.5bn worth of value, but there's quite a bit of space in the social web for more of a female-oriented, arts-and-craftsy, fashionable, aspirational type of site.

Go to your local magazine seller: there's a lot of women's oriented magazines, lifestyle oriented magazines... that's where I think the value in Pinterest is, as a sort of online complement to "aspirational lifestyle" brands.

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antidaily 706 days ago | link

Plus... chicks dig it.

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ricardobeat 707 days ago | link

Serious question: how does a company like pinterest spend $100 million? That's enough money to keep SpaceX running for an year, hundreds of engineers building space rockets.

They don't seem to have, or need, a sales force. They hire mostly developers and designers, and I imagine having hundreds of them isn't of much use unless their service will change radically in the future. Ideas?

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moocow01 707 days ago | link

I'd imagine a notable chunk is likely going to servers and infrastructure costs and another chunk will be reserved for current or potential legal expenditures.

But yes I agree its hard to understand how they are able to put all of that money to work - probably a lot goes into an "emergency fund".

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frabcus 706 days ago | link

Acquiring competitors, international expansion, a team to do deals with ecommerce sites.

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mtjl79 707 days ago | link

Normally I am not one to comment on fundraising, and I have stayed out of the whole "bubble" debate. But, honestly, this is really getting a little out of hand now. The whole funding situation is getting really frothy.

$1.5b pretty much prices them out of any real acquisition now for the most part. So is Pinterest going to go IPO?

Where do they go from here? That's the question of the day.

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fruchtose 707 days ago | link

I think the natural path for Pinterest will be to merge with Groupon, another shopping-related site and one that has survived an IPO--at least for now. This new site will combine the deals of Groupon with the design of Pinterest. Users will coupons, which are automatically pinned to the appropriate boards with automatically chosen photos.

Of course, Pinterest is all about design, which is why Groupon will also have to acquire Instragram. This will allow the merged company to select the right photo for any coupon and, if necessary, saturate the yellows, unfocus the background, and add a creatively misaligned border. That night your friends enjoyed the half-price alcohol they bought at Jerry's Drive-In Liquor will look extra cool when the photo has been processed through the "1977" filter. And on the plus side, Groupon/Pinterest/Instagram gets to keep it for their next liquor-oriented deal, giving them free advertising material. It's too early to tell what this new supergroup of startups will be called, but I want some credit if it becomes Groupstagram.

I'm only half-kidding, of course.

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CharlieA 707 days ago | link

I don't know about the half kidding...it seems like you might legitimately be on to something there in the area of private deal "experiences" for you and close friends.

But I'm thinking, more so than Pinterest it's closer to "Path" where you and your small network of close friends collectively get a deal (at Jerry's liquor, lovely example) then post cute photos of your night/experience (sans the trip on the porcelain bus) which become public on "Jerry's Drive-In Liquor" or whatever, and exposes the deal to other people in the private networks of those who were in your private network... a sort of "local viral" marketing effect which works as advertising and as the regular "look how awesome my saturday night was" that we (what? just me?) use Facebook/Instagram for anyway.

I think it perfectly combines the innate desire to show off and receive value while maintaining an air of exclusivity plus the whole validation thing, from strangers and friends alike.

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joering2 707 days ago | link

I won't tell you where they going. But I know the more people will pin unique, cool photos they stumbled upon, the more artists, photographers and content owners will demand either their share, or take down.

In this another debate of "is this a bubble", something interesting came to my mind. I thing the issue here is that any online real estate that made it big, made it huge because they used the latest technology available. Think YouTube. When it started, barely anyone knew how to program flash and have a container to upload 5MB file and it could be coded in different movie codecs and youtube would read it anyways. This was definitely pushing the envelope! The technology was new, but it let you display videos and thats what counted. I think with the new technology coming in, like HTML5, etc, there will be new websites coming out and grabbing huge audience based on this new technology. So in other words, whomever is betting $1,500 millions on Pinterest, is like betting that nothing new will be invented over the web. This is like buying GeoCites, because nobody is sitting in garage developing WordPress 1.0. On buying MySpace because there is no Facebook. I hope you get my drift...

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inthewoods 706 days ago | link

Get bought by Amazon or Google in my mind - they have stock to do it, and it would benefit either of them (although less for Google). I could see Amazon buying them as, essentially, infrastructure for driving ecommerce sales.

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joering2 706 days ago | link

they just raised a round on 1.5B valuation. Just exactly how much money you think Amazon or Google would be willing to spend on this deal? I would assume that if they just raised that round, the would not talk about anything less than 10X. I don't think neither Amazon nor Google would pay 15B for a company, regardless how much traffic they are getting. For that amount, and knowing Google, they would rather build their own product.

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inthewoods 706 days ago | link

Why would you assume it would have to be 10x? But I agree with your broader point that it would have to have amazing metrics to support that valuation on purchase. Instagram, from my point of view, was as much as defensive move as anything else - not sure there would be the same driver here.

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cageface 707 days ago | link

I think this really cements the notion that design is king now. Just about all the big startup hits lately are way more about design than any serious engineering. Sure there's some smart people making things like Facebook scale but the new crop of winners are all about UI.

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ErikHuisman 706 days ago | link

Consumer focused products are about user experience as it should be. Serious engineering can only help achieve this goal.

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idleloops 706 days ago | link

Which is odd, because it's visual design feels uncomfortable for me. On my laptop which is a 15" Thinkpad with a 1280x800 display - I can't even read the text on Pinterest without zooming. It's also too bright for my eyes. The multi-columns I find hideous to try and track (I can't stand Facebook's timeline for the same reason - which shows as two columns on my screen.)

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abijlani 707 days ago | link

The justification for this frothy valuation is that somehow they will turn the browsers of pictures into buyers of products. It is a difficult task and wish them luck but I still don't understand why they would need $120 MM to accomplish it.

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fusiongyro 707 days ago | link

"Turning the browsers of pictures into buyers of products" is an excellent turn of phrase, but I think it kind of misses the point. In actuality, Pinterest is about to become the HSN of the internet. It plays to all of Facebook's weaknesses:

- Pinterest makes money on sales rather than ads, through referral links

- Pinterest makes identical money on users with accounts and anonymous users

- Pinterest has exactly the users who have money and want to spend it

- Pinterest runs on greed, envy and materialism rather than lust and boredom

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. They've already had a big setback in that they were rewriting or inserting referral links and they had to stop. I'm not sure what the conception is moving forward, but I'm sure $120M will help them figure it out. Unlike a lot of the other big names being bandied around now, there is a sense that they're trying to build a company rather than find the fastest largest way to sell out.

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mibbitier 707 days ago | link

They need it to IPO or to sell to a bigger fool.

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dcaranda 707 days ago | link

We don't know if some of the $120MM is for secondary / cashing out existing investors / employees.

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drivebyacct2 707 days ago | link

Why is that the justification exactly? Seems like they have a variety of monetization options. That's one, but it's not the one I was thinking of and it would require a lot more work with more risk than other alternatives.

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koeselitz 707 days ago | link

Facebook got a $15B valuation from investors including Microsoft way back in 2007 [1] when they had only 50 million users (MySpace had 100 million users) and absolutely no advertising infrastructure in place whatsoever; they got this valuation and made $240 million in investor funding before they'd made a penny directly in advertising.

Meanwhile, Pinterest already has amassed well over 10 million users in a very short time, sees enough hits daily to be a top-ten social networking site, and already has a number of advertising arrangements, particularly with retailers like the Gap and Nordstrom.

If this is a bubble, it's been around for a while; and this doesn't seem like the most sterling example. If anything, this is less stunning than valuations of tech companies we've been seeing for many, many years.

[1] http://www.wired.com/techbiz/startups/news/2007/10/facebook_...

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bentlegen 707 days ago | link

That $15 billion number was inflated. It was valued at $10 billion in January 2009, at which point it had "made a penny directly in advertising". It also had 175 million users the following month, or 17.5x the number of users of Pinterest.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124335674958054943.html

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/02/14/facebook-surpasses-...

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muhfuhkuh 707 days ago | link

So, pricing it around 1/10th the price for 1/17th the users is execessive, but it should be worth at least a billion, right?

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Travis 707 days ago | link

All else equal, maybe.

You know what screams "bubble" to me? Everyone defending valuations by comparing the company du jour to Facebook.

It's like arguing that Webvan wasn't overvalued because Amazon.com has been successful. Unless a seriously meaningful connection between Facebook and Pinterest is drawn, the comparison is meaningless.

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nchuhoai 707 days ago | link

Two points people should be thinking about:

Yes, Pinterest has a good monetization scheme compared to Facebook (http://cdixon.org/2012/05/15/facebooks-business-model/), because of the natural placement of affiliate links and purchase intent.

But, Pinterest is so new (relatively), we don't really know whether it's just a fad or something to stay and I oftentimes feel like that risk of being replaced or simply forgotton about is not taken into account. We have seen dozens of growing companies that ended up nowhere, the sheer number of users just covers that up these days.

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notatoad 707 days ago | link

>But, Pinterest is so new (relatively), we don't really know whether it's just a fad or something to stay

i think we can confidently say that it's a fad. social content aggregators don't last. it's just a fact of the industry. kudos to pinterest for collecting some cash while they're hot, but it's only a matter of time before they go the same way as all their predecessors.

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emmett 707 days ago | link

Would you care to set any kind of specific timeline on your very confident sounding prediction? Put your (reputational) money down?

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sskates 707 days ago | link

For everyone talking about a bubble, 1.5B might actually be low. If you agree that Facebook is worth about 100B, according to Alexa, Pinterest is about 1/20th of the size by uniques (by pageviews it's about 1/30th). 1/20th means that Pinterest should be valued at about 5B, not 1.5B.

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/facebook.com

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/pinterest.com

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johnrob 707 days ago | link

Interestingly, most bubbles end in a scenario where the decline of a popular asset causes a domino effect through out the system. Silicon valley might by in a 'facebook bubble' - we anchor all of our prices on facebook, and then hope like hell that it isn't over valued.

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beedogs 707 days ago | link

What if you don't agree that Facebook is worth $100B?

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tatsuke95 706 days ago | link

You have precisely identified the bubble, inadvertently:

Why are we determining what these companies are worth based on things like number of uniques and users, rather than the actual amount of revenue they bring in? Users, in-and-of themselves, are useless. Revenue is always and everywhere the end goal. Somehow we've begun to take at face value that more users=more money, and I don't think that's the case.

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jacktea65 707 days ago | link

Leaving out the fact that Alex's data is wildly inaccurate that is probably the worst possible way to try to value a company. The most obvious issue is that Pinterest has only been successful for a few months. There's a long list of Facebook apps that were hot for a while then dropped out of existence. Pinterest may still be added to that list.

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alanfang 707 days ago | link

Alexa traffic measurements are too unreliable to base any kind value estimation on.

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sparknlaunch12 707 days ago | link

So essentially, if you can create a community with enough followers, referrals and photos you can make a billion dollar company.

They suggest Pinterest will use the money to expand internationally. What does this mean? Buy infrastructure internationally or just pursue overseas advertisers?

If anyone is interested in building Hacker News with photos get in contact.

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jarek 707 days ago | link

> Hacker News with photos

Already been discussed two years ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1276030

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joering2 706 days ago | link

> If anyone is interested in building Hacker News with photos get in contact.

I think you are totally not getting whats the value in HN. Seriously, do you see at least one picture on this site, except their logo?

If anything, it would be interesting to see Pinterest for HN comments. So often I miss out reading amazing comment because I either skip it or did not come back to the board when it showed up. Perhaps an idea where hackers could "pin" awesome comments to their boards and then I could lookup hackers by their karma (or karma/their lifetime here to see high karma on average per post) and follow hackers that pin awesome comments (so I can read more amazing comments in less time, with a "comb"), perhaps that idea would fly.

But not photos for HN for cry out loud.

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kingsidharth 707 days ago | link

So by this math, if I buy a company's 0.001% for $1000 its valuation becomes $1B? huh!

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BlackJack 706 days ago | link

Well if you bought a 0.001% stake for $1000, then the valuation would be $100M, not $1B. You probably mean either $10000 or 0.0001%. Regardless, that's the idea, yes. If a company had a million shares, and you bought one for $1000, you're essentially saying that the present value each of those shares is worth $1000, so the company is worth $1B.

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kingsidharth 706 days ago | link

Don't just down vote, answer the question?

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jacktea65 707 days ago | link

Pinterest got this valuation because their story is that it's related to ecommerce. The thing is it doesn't seem like that's turning out to be very true at all.

It seems like what has made Pinterest really successful is that it's basically 9gag/tumblr photo/meme sharing. If you look at their content it's mostly of that type.

Products seem to be a relatively tiny portion of the content. I'm sure they can make a nice chunk of money off that content, but it's unlikely to be a really big business I think, especially if their content skews more and more towards memes/photo sharing which it has been.

I think we'll look back on Pinterest as an over-hyped fad I'm sorry to say. People love to rag on it but Groupon will probably look very good in comparison.

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koeselitz 707 days ago | link

A counterpoint:

Lately there's been a lot of discussion about some difficulties Facebook has had in the advertising sector. Jason Bigler of Google was snarking about this earlier today. [1] I realize this is largely because all the snarks come out of the woodwork before an IPO, but to a certain degree - they're right. Facebook just isn't a place that puts people into a "transactional mindset." People go to interact, and they kind of seem to like pictures, but only insofar as they're sharing pictures that are (a) funny or (b) very personal and of themselves or their pets.

Pinterest is different. People go on Pinterest to look at pictures of stuff that they like or that they think is cool. Yeah, I can't get into the Pinterest thing either, but I know a few people who do, and I have to say that that model - getting people to amass collections of stuff they think is neat or cool - is much, much more likely to put people in an buyer mindset than most social networking models.

And as a few people have shared above, it seems as though advertising on Pinterest has a lot of momentum; many companies have reported extremely good results. My feeling is that this will continue. The whole metaphor of Pinterest seems to be extremely similar to shopping and acquiring - collecting stuff, putting it on your page, browsing other people's collections.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/gleeful-google-exec-takes-a-s...

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cageface 707 days ago | link

But are people posting photos of the kinds of things that sell in large volumes and generate a lot of revenue? The attraction of a lot of these sites is that they initially feel like a cosy insider community but that feeling fades fast as they become mainstream. This is happening to FB already.

Are people going to be posting and clicking on pictures of ketchup or cleaning products or life insurance policies?

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koeselitz 706 days ago | link

Given the (sizeable) advertising contracts Pinterest has already landed, people are posting and clicking on pictures of awesome clothes they like and might want to own, and other luxury stuff like cooking utensils; movies and books also seem to be pretty popular, and I've seen a lot of character diagrams from TV shows and fantasy series.

Yeah, there are certainly random things like ketchup and cleaning products and life insurance policies that don't lend themselves well to selling via images on the internet. But that has nothing to do with Pinterest; and given some time, somebody will probably figure out the angles for life insurance and ketchup.

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prawn 707 days ago | link

This link was posted further up: http://www.shopify.com/blog/6058268-how-pinterest-drives-eco...

You should have a read and see if you change your mind.

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