Pinterest is planning to release redesigned profiles this week, according to CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann.
“I’m so excited about it,” said Silbermann (pictured, left), who spoke at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. “We wanted to make it more beautiful … to make your profile different in kind than the profile you have on Facebook.”
Silbermann emphasized new discoverability features in the redesign, saying he and his team wanted to make it easier for users to stumble upon other like-minded users, and highlight the people their connections are repinning images from.
He also said the team is working on expanding the number of things users can pin, including video. Soon, people will be able to pin from Vimeo, Hulu and Netflix, among others. And, as was revealed earlier this week, an iPad app — as well as a public API — are also in the works.
At the beginning of the interview, Silbermann spoke of his inspiration for Pinterest, saying it was a project he always wanted to build. “I collected insects, I collected stamps,” he recalled. “I was obsessed with this idea that what you collect says something about who you are.”
He also talked about the site’s original design. “We labored over that grid,” he said. “There were literally dozens of that which were fully coded. We felt like, if your collections didn’t look awesome, if they weren’t beautiful, why would anyone spend the time to build them?”
SEE ALSO: What People Are Pinning on Pinterest
Although Pinterest’s popularity has skyrocked over the past six months, gaining traction was painfully slow during the first year-and-a-half, Silbermann recounted. Nine months after launch, the site still had fewer than 10,000 users. “Someone was asking, ‘Why did you keep going?’ I think the answer was telling everyone that we blew it was so embarrassing,” Silbermann admitted. “Google [wasn’t] going to hire me [again], they barely hired me the first time.”
Silbermann wasn’t able to identify a precise turning point for the company, but rather pointed to a number of things that built momentum for the service. “There was never a celebrity that took it from zero to 60,” he explained. Instead, growth was more organic: People would join, become proud of their collections and show it to their friends. Participation at a design conference and “pin it forward,” an online blogger event, also helped raise awareness.
Silbermann also pointed out that the site didn’t take off in the Bay Area, or in New York. Rather, the earliest Pinterest users were from the Midwest and Southeast, areas that are still disproportionately represented.
Interviewer and Hunch founder Chris Dixon asked Silbermann how he was handling the recent flood of Pinterest clones. “Clones have always happened,” he pointed out. “What makes Pinterest special is the people. If you were to pull out all the people and pins, it would be empty.” He said that the company isn’t focused on racing against such imitators, but on ensuring what they create is “really beautiful.”
Meanwhile, monetization is not a priority at the moment, according to Silbermann. For a time, Pinterest was generating revenue via affiliate marketing service Skimlinks, which Silbermann said was implemented to “understand behavior.” The long-term monetization will have “to speak to the heart of the product itself,” which is “helping people discover things,” he said. Affiliate revenue is not the business model, he insisted.
Mashable reporter Sarah Kessler contributed to this story.
A Pinterest Timeline
March 2010: Pinterest Launched
Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.
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