Pinterest makes a big mobile play, rolls out Android, iPad apps

  • August 15, 2012

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Pinterest is looking to extend its popularity to mobile devices, reaching users wherever they are.

The social networking start-up threw a big bash at its new San Francisco headquarters to roll out new versions of its service for Android smartphones and for the iPad. It also updated its year-old iPhone app to make it sleeker and faster. The apps can be downloaded here. 

Pinterest, which lets users "pin" content they find on the Web to virtual boards, has exploded in popularity but won’t say how many users it has. ComScore says it grew to about 23 million users in July, up from 1  million a year ago. It was only last week that Pinterest opened its service to the general public. Before then, users who signed up had to wait to be cleared by the company.

A sensation in Silicon Valley, Pinterest -- which does not yet generate revenue -- raised $100 million at a $1.5-billion valuation in May. It has about 60 employees.

It was something of a coming out party for Pinterest, which has never held an official news conference. Chief Executive Ben Silbermann said his team was responding to demand from users for an Android app. In fact, an Android app was such a constant request from users that it became an inside joke at the company, he said.

One Android user, Kim Legocki, social media director at Cal State East Bay, was thrilled. An avid Pinterest user, she was invited to the party to meet Pinterest employees and hear the announcement.

“I have already downloaded it,” Legocki said.

Silbermann said mobile was a priority for Pinterest since the service is about getting ideas and inspiration and then getting out in the world, not getting stuck in front of a computer.

“Our goal has never been to get you in front of the computer transfixed for hours and hours on end,” he said. “It’s to get you offline.”

The Pinterest party drew a few hundred people, with artistic food such as a succulent cupcakes and stations to apply temporary tattoos, build terrariums in Mason jars, to send “wish you were here” postcards and a photo booth.

Legocki said she fell in love with Pinterest from the moment she first used it and has used it every day since. She used it to remodel her San Francisco loft and charts the places in the world she wants to travel.

Her husband didn’t get her excitement at being invited to Pinterest’s headquarters for a party.

“I told him it was like being asked to visit the Porsche factory in Germany,” said Legocki, 41, whose husband is a Porsche fan. “I feel valued and validated. It was a nice reward.”

“I would love to see Pinterest succeed,” she added. “I don’t want them to be a flash in the pan. I want them to embed themselves in our day-to-day life.”

For all its popularity with users, Pinterest may have a tougher time winning over public investors who have soured on social networking stocks after Facebook’s disappointing debut. The world’s largest social network with 955 million users is trading far below its $38 initial public offering price, dragged down by concerns over slowing revenue growth and its moneymaking potential.

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