It’s like a virtual bulletin board, with social networking pizazz thrown in for good measure. Pinterest.com lets users create and maintain theme-based collections of images, links and other online sources of inspiration. In essence, it’s a highly visual version of your personal wish list. From your Pinterest home page, you can like pre-existing pins (essentially links) posted by the people you follow or add pins of your own from anywhere around the Web. The startup offers an iPhone app and a mobile site in addition to the desktop version.
Since first entering beta in March 2010, Pinterest has become one of the most talked-about social networking and sharing sites. Traffic monitor Hitwise estimated that Pinterest was notching 11 million views per week by the end of 2012, and comScore reported that Pinterest is the fastest site to break the 10 million unique visitor mark. Add those hefty numbers to an elite roster of brands using the site to promote their wares (Bergdorf Goodman, HGTV and West Elm, among many others, have Pinterest boards) and some serious funding ($27 million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz alone), and you have a social network to reckon with.
Pinterest combines the visual emphasis of blogging/social networking site Tumblr with the practicality of a virtual to-do list. Like StumbleUpon, Pinterest is all about discovery, but it presents users’ pins in a more aesthetically appealing interface with the added benefit of organizing all those links into useful categories. Everyday users aren’t the only ones recognizing this site’s value; Pinterest is quickly becoming a destination for brands and blogs looking to bolster their online identities.
It’s already extremely popular, and Pinterest is poised to keep growing thanks to newfound interest in the site by business owners and high-profile brands. An iPad app is also on the way. Don’t be shocked to see Pinboard-style curated online stores in the future from major retailers.
Funding: $37.5 million
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.