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In many ways, Pinterest has always been the “forgotten” social network. It never had the size and reach of Facebook, the media adulation of Twitter, or the pop culture cachet of Snapchat. But now that Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have all gone public in splashy IPO deals, people are starting to wonder: What’s up with Pinterest?
The case FOR a Pinterest IPO
Certainly, there’s a lot to like about Pinterest. This is the social network that introduced us to pins, pinning, and pinboards, after all. If you’ve planned a wedding, redecorated your home, or experimented with a tasty new meal creation, chances are, you’ve used Pinterest to find some unique and inspiring ideas. Brides-to-be pin wedding dresses, interior decorators pin products that would look perfect in a new house, and aspiring chefs pin recipes and ingredients worth exploring.
By current measures, Pinterest has 200 million monthly users. And it grew from a tiny, niche social network of just 50,000 users to a massive social media behemoth with 17 million members in just 9 months. So it has plenty of scale.
Not to mention the fact that Pinterest has done a pretty admirable job of creating new products for users and finding new ways to monetize the social media platform. In fact, in many ways, Pinterest is way ahead of the likes of Facebook and Twitter when it comes to “buyable pins” and “promoted pins.” The company now does $500 million in annual revenue from all of its advertising options, and has a market value north of $12 billion.
The case AGAINST a Pinterest IPO
So why isn’t there more buzz about Pinterest in blogging circles? One big reason, unfortunately, is that Pinterest is still largely seen as a “for women only” social network. It’s great for brides, stay-at-home moms, and fashionistas – but not so great for the guys. We might love the Eagles and Carson Wentz, but most of us are not going to be creating Eagles pinboards with cute Carson pics in our free time – unless it’s in preparation for the next Super Bowl party in 2019. So, unfortunately, Pinterest suffers from a bit of built-in sexism. Pinterest claims that men account for 40 percent of users, but that number seems a bit inflated.
Another knock against Pinterest, quite frankly, is that social media has lost much of its luster. Last year’s big-name social media IPO darling – Snapchat – has pretty much fizzled out. People are down on Facebook and Twitter, and there are cool new companies – like Uber and Airbnb – that are probably hotter IPO prospects these days than Pinterest. Remember – Pinterest has been around since March 2010. That’s an eternity in the tech world, and the so-called “window of opportunity” may have already closed on Pinterest.
Scenarios for Pinterest in 2019
So if an IPO is not on deck for 2019, what might be coming next for Pinterest? Already, we’ve seen some wannabe Pinterests try to usurp some of the social network’s users, so it could be the case that Pinterest fades away, with its users decamping to more specialized sites dedicated to interests like travel or cooking.
Another scenario – and a far more likely one – is that either Facebook or Instagram (owned by Facebook) comes up with a new innovation that pretty much crushes Pinterest once and for all. Just as Instagram is putting Snapchat to rest these days, the same scenario is likely for Pinterest as well if action is not taken soon.
These days, probably the only people who care about Pinterest going public are the big Wall Street bankers, who stand to have a big payday if the company has an IPO debut in 2019. But right now, there are plenty other hot companies out there – in fields like AI, virtual reality and cryptocurrency – so don’t spend too much time waiting around to get your hands on Pinterest stock anytime soon.