Pinterest was first conceptualized in December 2009 by cofounders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra.
The first prototype was launched in March 2010 and made available to a small group of colleagues and family members.
In early 2011, the company secured a US$10 million Series A financing led by Jeremy Levine and Sarah Tavel of Bessemer Venture Partners.
In October 2011, after an introduction from Kevin Hartz and Jeremy Stoppelman, the company secured US$27 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at US$200 million.
Retail companies use Pinterest for advertising and style trending. Pinterest intends web design to support “style conscious retailers”, where customers can visualize products within a consumer context.
Companies like The Gap, Chobani, Nordstrom, and West Elm use Pinterest to gather online referrals that link users with similar interests to a company.
The Gap has arguably taken the biggest initiative in their use of Pinterest, employing their own themed pinboards such as “Denim Icons” and “Everybody in Gap”.
Pinterest played a role in the run-up to the 2012 US presidential election. The wives of both candidates created accounts. Ann Romney debuted her Pinterest account in March and First Lady Michelle Obama announced hers in June.
In May 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion. In February 2013, it was valued at $2.5 billion. In October 2013, it was valued at $3.8 billion. In May 2014, it was valued at $5 billion. In June 2015, it was valued at $11 billion.
In May 2015, Fortune Magazine listed Pinterest in the 8th position on its Unicorn List, which ranks startups that have a valuation exceeding $1 billion. As of 2017 the company is valued at $12 billion.
In June 2015, Pinterest added the “Buy” button to its mobile app.
In Alex Heath’s article on Business Insider, he sheds a light to Pinterest’s interest in becoming a search company, hence, “the company is putting search front and center in its app with [Pinterest Lens].
In March 2019, Pinterest added product catalogs and personalized shopping recommendations with the “more from [brand]” option, showcasing a range of product Pins from the same business.
Pinterest has a notification system that copyright holders can use to request that content be removed from the site.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor status of Pinterest has been questioned given that it actively promotes its users to copy to Pinterest, for their perpetual use, any image on the Internet.
Pinterest users cannot claim safe harbor status and as such are exposed to possible legal action for pinning copyright material. Pinterest allows users to transfer information; intellectual property rights come to play.
A “nopin” HTML meta tag was released by Pinterest on 20 February 2012 to allow websites to opt out of their images being pinned. On 24 February 2012, Flickr implemented the code to allow users to opt out.
Pinterest released a statement in March 2012 saying it believed it was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.
In early May 2012, the site added automatic attribution of authors on images originating from Flickr, Behance, YouTube and Vimeo. Automatic attribution was also added for Pins from sites mirroring content on Flickr.
At the same time, Flickr added a Pin shortcut to its share option menu to users who have not opted out of sharing their images.