Pinterest Grid. Image Source: Pinterest.
Pinterest is reported to have reached 400 million monthly active users in July 2020, attracting many Gen Z and Millennial users there for creative inspiration in fashion, home decor and personal embetterment.
The popular online visual board company went public in April 2019 at $24 per stock and has since tripled in value. Today, each stock is roughly $72, reaching a market cap of $46B. Pinterest’s team does not plan to stop growing here as there have been rumours of an acquisition of photo editing app VSCO.
Let’s take a deep dive into the executive team of the San Francisco based company, which now has over 2200 employees.
Coming from a family of doctors, co-founder and CEO, Ben Silbermann, did not imagine that he would one day run one of the world’s largest tech companies.
From a young age, Silbermann had an interest in collecting items such as stamps and insects. Whilst studying at Yale, he decided to switch his area of study from medicine to political science, then landed a job in management consulting. From there, Silbermann made his way into a customer support role at Google and eventually became involved in product design. It was there he was inspired to build his own company.
Despite having many product ideas, he felt that his job at Google limited his creativity. After much contemplation, he took a leap of faith and decided to leave the company. Silbermann teamed up with co-founder Paul Sciarra, who now serves as the Executive Chairman of Jobi Aviation, and began working on a product called ‘Tote,’ an online shopping catalogue. It wasn’t until Silbermann met Evan Sharp, the third co-founder, that they decided to pivot from ‘Tote’ and build Pinterest.
Sharp is the mastermind behind the grid layout of the Pinterest website. He now serves as the Chief Design and Creative Officer for the company. Before Pinterest, the Columbia University Graduate worked as a product designer at Facebook.
Over the years, Pinterest has transformed itself from a social pinboard to a discovery engine of sorts. Much of its success has revolved around its ability to effectively use machine learning and AI to recommend visual boards to its users. Running the team behind the successful discovery engine is Jeremy King, SVP and Head of Engineering. King was previously the CTO of Walmart, where he had served for almost eight years before joining Pinterest in April 2019.
Another essential member of the technical team is Waleed Ojeil, Head of Monetization Engineering. The company currently allows users to buy pinned goods directly from its website, and many beauty and fashion retailers have jumped on board to sell their products. Before joining the company in December 2019, Ojeil worked as the Senior Director Of Engineering at Google, where he helped implement highly publicized changes such as the unification of Web and Analytics.
The San Francisco-based company has not been void of criticism and negative publicity either. In August last year, the company’s former COO, Françoise Brougher, filed a lawsuit accusing C-suite executives of gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. Previous employees Aerica Shimizu Banks and Ifeoma Ozoma have also accused the company of racial discrimination. Employees at the company staged a walkout, and a petition to put an end to all forms of discrimination and retaliation circulated the office. The company later paid $22.5M to settle a lawsuit.
After that, Pinterest decided to onboard Tyi McCray as the Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity. McCray received a PhD in Psychology from Cornell University and then worked in multiple organizations as a diversity lead. She started her career at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, where she was the Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, then worked as a Partner for inclusion and diversity organizational consulting agency, Forshay. Most recently, she was the Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships Lead at Airbnb.
McCray was not the only diversity hire at the company. Andrea Wishom became the first-ever Black board member to join the company, then two months later, former Disney executive Salaam Coleman Smith was also appointed to the board. Wishom is the President of trampoline production and wholesale distribution company Skywalker Holdings and sits on the board of fashion brand, Tory Burch, and social networking service, Nextdoor, and had previously spent over two decades at Harpo Productions. Prior to being an EVP at Disney, Smith previously spent more than ten years at NBC Universal and ViacomCBS. The Stanford Graduate is also on the Board of Directors of large retailer, GAP.
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