Our Social Media Dude Discusses Pinterest’s Planned Move to San Francisco

Pinterest is moving to San Francisco, say those who should know.

Press release from Ed Lee’s office this afternoon…

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced today that Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social media firms, will move from Palo Alto to San Francisco. Pinterest is currently finalizing plans for a long-term home in the SoMa neighborhood and has signed a short-term lease for space in the area to accommodate immediate growth.

“I am thrilled to welcome Pinterest to the ‘Innovation Capital of the World,’ and am pleased that our efforts to attract and retain the industry’s best and most innovative companies are working,” said Mayor Lee.

“We’re pleased to now call one of the world’s great cities home,” said Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann. “Thanks to Mayor Lee, his team and everyone who has helped make this move possible…”

Mayor Lee also debuted his new Pinterest page. Call me cynical, but I’m guessing he didn’t post those all himself.

Pinterest has “around 50″ employees, company spokesperson Barry Schnitt said in an e-mail. (And that’s all he’d say. The company isn’t sharing additional details at this time.)

Frankly, I have never used Pinterest and even more frankly, I only have the vaguest notion of what it is. So I asked our Social Media Dude, Ian Hill, to illuminate, because he knows a lot about companies I’ve never heard of doing things I don’t understand in ways I don’t necessarily approve of, but wudduya gonna do?

JON BROOKS: So what is Pinterest?

IAN HILL: PinterEst is essentially a social photo sharing application. It takes photo sharing to a new level by linking photos to web sites. What it’s really developed into is an online catalogue. You can follow other users on Pinterest. They “pin” photos that reflect their interests. There’s a lot of food and wedding stuff and products. And you can click through to the web site where that photo originally appeared and just see whatever the content is around that photo.

JON BROOKS: How popular is this? It seemed to become big rather quickly.

IAN HILL: It went from probably something late last year that most people had never heard of to, in March, when it had 2.2 million daily users, 12 million monthly users. They’re not Facebook numbers, but that’s pretty impressive for something that had only been around for a few months. I think people were really hooked on the presentation, the ability go to just one web site and see a bunch of professional photos that your friends like. That drew a lot of women, in particular. As of march, 90% of Pinterest users were women.

JON BROOKS: Does the company make any money?

IAN HILL: I have not heard of a business plan for Pinterest just yet. Like any other social media organization, I imagine it’s going to be built on one of two things: Either they’re going to sell advertising, or they’re looking to be purchased by a Facebook or a Google.

JON BROOKS: What do you think about them coming to San Francisco?

IAN HILL: It is interesting. If you think about the Big Six social networks, you’re talking Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr. Two of those are now in San Francisco as opposed to Silicon Valley. I don’t think this will be a huge blow to the Silicon Valley scene, but Silicon Valley has its own community, and when you have big names that are willing to leave that community, it’s notable.

JON BROOKS: So you would consider Pinterest a big name in the social media space at this point?

IAN HILL Oh yeah. I think the biggest benefit that people are seeing out of Pinterest is the brands that are going on there and selling clothes, in particular. Some of those companies have reported seeing some significant traffic and sales. People see for instance a dress they like on Pinterest and then buy it off The Gap or somewhere.

When you look a the Facbook and Google Plus model, where they’re trying to be everything to everybody, Pinterest is different in that it’s just photos that link to web sites, curated by the user. How long is that going to hold the public’s interest, and can it? It’s really grown in popularity really quickly, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether it will still be around a year from now or whether it will be part of the Facebook empire.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor