Pinterest: From a Simple Idea to a Billion-Dollar Business


Pinterest (NYSE: PINS) is more than just a social media platform; it is a visual discovery engine that has changed the way we plan, create, and inspire. Founded in 2010, Pinterest has grown to become one of the most popular image-sharing platforms in the world, with over 450 million monthly active users. In this article, we’ll dive into the founding history of Pinterest, its business model, and how it earns money, as well as explore the many ways an average user can incorporate Pinterest into their daily lives.

What does Pinterest do?

Pinterest is a photo-sharing app that allows users to curate virtual vision boards or “pinboards” in various categories, making it easy for users to find and save content that interests them. The platform generates revenue through “Promoted Pins,” which look like user-generated pins, and positions itself as a “discovery service” that helps users discover and curate inspiring and personalized visual content. With 450 million monthly users, Pinterest is a popular platform for people worldwide to discover and visualize ideas for daily activities, major commitments, ongoing passions, and milestone events.

To better understand how Pinterest works, we need to break down its key elements. One of the best things about Pinterest is that it’s incredibly user-friendly. Whether you’re an experienced user or just starting out, you can quickly and easily find inspiration, save images to your boards, and create a virtual scrapbook of your favorite ideas. Users can interact with various surfaces on the platform, such as the home feed and search bar, to discover relevant and personalized content. The platform also features the Pinterest Lens camera feature, which allows users to visually search within images and upload images to find visually similar shoppable products.

Pinterest has several types of pins, including image, product, and video pins, and pin collections. A pin is an image that is added to Pinterest, and registered users can save anything they like on the web in the form of pins. Pins and pinboards have a longer retention value in the search results than other shared stuff over websites like Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest also offers organizing and planning tools for users to curate and save content on the platform, including boards and sections. These boards and sections not only provide useful tools for users but also help the platform gain an understanding of user tastes and preferences, powering the organic recommendations and advertising engine.

Pinterest also hosts around 6700 interests on the platform, employed for user searches, content categorization, and ad targeting. The platform’s focus on pinboards is what sets it apart from other image-sharing platforms. Users can create boards around a specific theme, such as fashion, home décor, or food. Boards with multiple ideas can have different sections that further contain multiple pins. Users can follow and unfollow other users as well as boards, filling their home feed with personalized content. Overall, Pinterest is a great platform to discover and save ideas, connect with like-minded individuals, and find inspiration for all aspects of life.

Company History

Pinterest is a social media platform that allows users to save and organize images in a visually appealing way. It was founded in 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp. The idea for Pinterest came about when Ben was working at Google and noticed that people would save images of things they liked to their computer, but they were difficult to find later. He wanted to create a platform that would allow people to save and organize images in a more accessible way.

Initially, the company launched as Tote, an app that aimed at connecting consumers with retailers. However, Tote struggled as a business due to the limitations in mobile payment technology at the time. Despite this, Tote users were amassing growing collections of “favorite” items to share with their friends, which inspired Ben to pivot and offer people a visually appealing way to display all their collections on the same site. He renamed the app Pinterest, and it quickly gained popularity.
Six months after its launch, Pinterest had 80,000 collections on everything from favorite beverages to clothes sold at Anthropologie. The company received funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, valuing the company at $200 million. The launch of the iPhone app in March 2011 and the Pinterest mobile app in September 2011 resulted in increased popularity and millions of downloads. By December 2011, Pinterest had become one of the top ten social network sites with over 11 million visits every week.

Today, Pinterest has over 450 million monthly active users, and the platform continues to grow in popularity. It has become a go-to platform for people looking for inspiration, whether it’s for recipes, home decor, fashion, or travel.


Pinterest is a visual discovery platform that offers something for everyone, from busy stay-at-home moms to tech-savvy college students. Users can use the platform to find inspiration and ideas for a variety of interests, such as wedding planning, fashion and style, home decor and renovation, and travel planning.

As a visual discovery engine, users can search for and save ideas they find inspiring, creating virtual scrapbooks of their favorite inspiration. For example, a user planning a wedding can use Pinterest to search for wedding inspiration, from decorations and dresses to cake designs and invitation ideas. They can then save all of these ideas to their own boards, creating a virtual scrapbook of all their favorite wedding inspiration.

Similarly, users can use Pinterest to find and save fashion and style ideas, from outfit ideas for different occasions to casual everyday wear. Users can create virtual wardrobes by saving these ideas to their own boards, making it easy to reference them whenever they need inspiration for their next outfit.

Pinterest is also a great tool for home decor and renovation inspiration. Users can search for and save images of their favorite decor styles and design elements, creating virtual mood boards for their own home decor projects. This can range from vintage-inspired home decor to more contemporary styles.

Finally, Pinterest is a great tool for travel planning. Users can create boards filled with travel inspiration, from images of exotic destinations to tips on budget travel. They can also search for and save images of their favorite hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, making it easier to plan their itinerary and stay organized.

Overall, Pinterest offers a visual platform for users to explore and discover new ideas and inspiration for a variety of interests.

Business Model

Pinterest’s business model is centered around advertising and e-commerce. The company earns revenue through advertising, working with brands and businesses to promote their products and services to users. Brands can create sponsored content and promoted pins, which are displayed in users’ feeds and search results, just like any other pin. This allows businesses to reach their target audience in a highly targeted and relevant way, while users get to see content that is relevant to their interests.

Pinterest’s promoted pins are associated with a specific purpose, such as video view, conversion, brand awareness, shopping catalogue, app install, directing traffic, trials, and sign-ins. Once these purposes are fulfilled, it generates revenue for the company. The different types of promoted pins include standard pins, carousel promoted pins, video pins, idea pins, app pins, and shoppable pins.

Shoppable pins, in particular, have had a profound impact on e-commerce and online shopping. With partnerships with thousands of retailers and brands, Pinterest has become a powerful tool for people to find and purchase products online. The company’s visual search and discovery engine make it easy for users to find and purchase products they discover on Pinterest.

Content creators on Pinterest can also earn money by partnering with brands or making their Idea Pins shoppable. By tagging brand partners in their Idea Pins with the paid partnership tool, they can make their content more discoverable to a wider audience. By making their Idea Pins shoppable, content creators can also earn commission when people click through and shop.

In 2022, Pinterest posted revenue of $2.8 billion, up from $24 million in 2014, when it first generated revenue via its promoted pins by charging fees from the respective brands. With 450 million monthly users, Pinterest has become a popular platform for people worldwide to discover and visualize ideas for daily activities, major commitments, ongoing passions, and milestone events.

Pinterest Predictions

Pinterest Predictions are annual forecasts of rising trends based on unique signals of user interests. As a platform where people plan their future, Pinterest has a good track record of accurately predicting trends. In fact, for the past three years, 80% of their trend predictions have come true. Looking ahead to 2023, Pinterest predicts a surge in demand for postpartum gifts, fancy non-alcoholic drinks, mocktail bars, and train travel abroad. These predictions offer valuable insights into emerging trends that businesses and individuals can use to stay ahead of the curve.


In summary, Pinterest has grown from a small side project to a billion-dollar company, and has become much more than just a social media platform. It offers users a wealth of inspiration and creativity to plan their lives, find new ideas, and discover their passions. Whether you’re searching for inspiration for a home renovation project, planning your next adventure, or simply exploring your creative side, Pinterest is the perfect tool for you. With its endless possibilities and user-friendly interface, Pinterest continues to evolve and improve, offering its users a unique and valuable experience.