Pinterest CEO: 'We Don't Want to be a Commerce Service'

Social Media
Here are seven things Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann revealed about his vision for the company and what users can expect next.

Pinterest, the digital bulletin board, crossed 100 million users recently. As Pinterest gains users, the company must find more ways to engage people and drive growth. Indeed, international growth, improved user experiences, and monetizing its ad platform are priorities, said CEO Ben Silbermann, who shared the company's road map with attendees earlier this week at the IAB Mixx conference. Here are seven things Silbermann revealed about his vision for Pinterest and what users can expect next. Don't call it a social media platform.
Pinterest is aspirational. Pinterest is a place where people can plan their future, whether it's a special moment like a wedding or tonight's dinner. What it's not is a social media platform, Silbermann maintained. "Social media [describes platforms like] Facebook and Twitter where people are communicating with other people," he said. "I don't think the folks who use Pinterest think of it as a broadcast medium. It's about me [the individual] and what I want to do, not 'here's my latte, what do you think about it?'"

Pinterest is trying to be stickier.
The company is working on providing more information and features to help users accomplish more. If a certain dish or outfit catches your eye, for example, Pinterest wants to provide "the recipe, phone number or location on a map" for finding that item, as well as the ability to purchase it directly.

Pinterest doesn't want to be a commerce company.
Buyable pins were the "number one requested feature from users," Silbermann noted. There are already 30 million buyable pins on Pinterest for merchandise from department stores like Macy's and Neiman Marcus as well as small boutiques.

But standing out in the crowded ecommerce space is difficult, even for a company with lots of traction like Pinterest. Even though the company wants to make every pin buyable, Silbermann said it's not trying to be the next Amazon or Gilt. "We don't want to be a commerce service," he insisted. The company, Silbermann continued, wants to make it easier for people to continue planning for the future, which includes being able to make purchases.

Silbermann has a new (private) phone number.
Silbermann famously shared his cellphone number with new users in emails welcoming them to the platform. "I got calls from all over [but] that didn't scale out," Silbermann observed. "But there's still value in talking to people and getting the texture of where they're confused and I hope that idea is embedded in the company culture."

First impressions are important.
As companies focus on adding advanced features and growing the platform, there's a risk of forgetting "who you're building for," Silbermann pointed out. First impressions are critical, but it's easy to lose sight of the new user experience if you only signed up once for a platform. To stay in touch with its new users, Silbermann says he frequently creates new accounts to keep track of the user experience firsthand.

The average user is changing.
Women still represent the majority of Pinterest users at 55 percent, but men are catching up and represent roughly 45 percent of users. Additionally, Pinterest is now available in 30 languages.

Next year's priorities.
Pinterest's foremost goal is to drive international growth and deliver relevant experiences for each user globally. Goal number two is to continue making Pinterest a better planning tool, "especially on the phone," Silbermann said. "When you open Pinterest, every object should feel like something you can take action on." Goal number three is to make the platform more useful for advertisers. The company is working on enhancing its targeting capabilities and providing more analytics to help marketers see what's resonating with users. "We want the product to be useful for our users and advertisers," Silbermann said.