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TALKING PINTEREST: Two weeks after Pinterest completed a funding round of $225 million, chief executive officer and cofounder Ben Silbermann, who rarely makes public appearances, took the stage at Fast Company’s annual Innovation Uncensored conference in San Francisco on Wednesday to talk about the company’s expansion plans and whether it will follow Twitter’s path toward an initial public offering.
Addressing Pinterest’s reputation as a “scrapbooking site for women,” Silbermann said the company, which has less than 200 employees, plans to make a big push into new markets overseas in the coming months. He also wants to try and attract more male users.
“This is about planning something for the future,” he said. “It’s about helping people discover what they really love.” He said the goal is to grow into 14 new markets by the end of the year.
Speaking just a day before Twitter begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Silbermann was asked whether Pinterest was also eyeing an IPO. “It’s not the goal,” he said. “The goal is to become a sustainable company that can stand on its own two feet. The goal is to build a service that helps people plan the future on a great scale. We’re a long way from that.”
Lately, he’s also more focused on a new initiative to introduce sponsored pins from advertisers. “We want to focus on relevance,” he said of the ads that will be promoted. He added that the key is to preserve the platform’s aesthetic quality of service while being transparent with users about which pins are sponsored and which are not.
As Silbermann continues to find ways to monetize the business, which has yet to turn a profit, his biggest concern is losing touch with what people use the service for.
“Understanding what is working and what isn’t is the prerequisite to making it work better,” he said.
Pinterest does not disclose how many users it has but he’s trying to find ways to keep current users happy while exploring more sponsorship opportunities and finding new areas of growth. “A lot more hasn’t been built yet than has been built,” he said. “[It’s] important to remember where we are as a young company.”