Of the hundreds of interactive sessions at SXSW this year, the Q&A with Pinterest Co-founder Ben Silbermann was definitely one of the highlights for me. Having surpassed 11 million users, Pinterest was one of the “buzz products” at the conference. There was certainly greater acceptance and interest in Pinterest, as its meteoric rise in user base in the past months has earned it a little respect.
Silbermann enlightened the audience about the original motivation for Pinterest, which was to provide a forum for collecting online. That’s a single-mindedness in app development that I find really fascinating—pick a fundamental human behavior (i.e., collecting) and build around it.
He added that his main method of market research was to go to a local bookstore and study the lifestyle categories of consumer magazines on the shelf. In his mind, Pinterest needed to be “beautiful” enough to show off the same sorts of images that appeared in print. He is especially interested in the real-world connections that users make to their pins, such as recipes and crafts, and he hopes Pinterest will help users discover things “they didn’t know they wanted.”
Of interest, Silbermann said he was pleased to see the new uses of Pinterest popping up in the past several weeks, such as satire boards, (think Presidential campaign), and museums using it to stimulate interest in and sharing of their collections.
What’s on the horizon from Pinterest? Silberman outlined several items, in addition to the consumer-friendly changes to its terms of service that appeared this week:
1. Improvements to the Profile to allow users to trace the path of pins to influential people
2. Expanding the platform to iPad and other devices
3. Releasing an API—but he said this would only happen when it was fully ready and stable
4. Expanding sources of pins, like video, and adding better attribution
As you can imagine, he played his cards close to his vest when it came to business model and monetization. Commenting on the recent affiliate link program on Pinterest, he said that was a trial to better understand user behavior, and has been discontinued for the moment.
Craving more? PC Magazine also published a nice recap of Silbermann’s talk.
How are you using Pinterest lately?