Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann downplayed the social media site's plans for an initial public offering during an appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s tech-focused WSJDLive event Wednesday, stating that the company is instead taking time to scale its advertising business and user base.
Silbermann said Pinterest expects to generate around $300 million in revenue this year, tripling last year’s totals, thanks mostly to its website and mobile ads.
Pinterest is somewhat slowing its rollout of its once-hyped buyable pins, Silbermann added, calling it a “long term strategy.”
Pinterest has come a long way. Consider that the company projected it would have $169 million in revenue and 150 million users by the end of 2015 but missed on both counts, according to an earlier report from The Wall Street Journal.
With users already coming to Pinterest to share ideas for a variety of products for use in projects from crafts to interior design, the social media site has always seemed to have a natural usefulness for merchants. Other platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, have fewer obvious connections to retail, but boast more users and commercial activity.
Pinterest has been working diligently to prove its worth to marketers and investors as well as retailers, rolling out a variety of e-commerce, analytics, search and advertising tools useful to retailers — moves perceived by many as preparation ahead of a widely anticipated IPO. Pinterest has raised some $1.3 billion, including $533 million last year, but Silbermann Wednesday told Wall Street not to hold its breath for an IPO in the near future, which should tamp down rumors along those lines, at least for a while.
Still, Pinterest will need to work to regain the faith of marketers, who were particularly disappointed by the company's much-vaunted buyable pins. A Channel Advisor report from last September found that Pinterest trailed Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on social media sales conversions; at the time, buyable pins were the platform's only true e-commerce feature, but they never really took off as a way for users to actually make purchases.
In addition, Pinterest is turning to men in order to expand its user base, Silbermann noted. The site is now dominated by women— some 70% of users are female—though 40% of new users are male, he said. With such an imbalance in gender makeup, it makes sense on paper to find new users among men. But it’s far from clear if and how the site can inspire that many more men to frequent a site with so much organic appeal to women.