Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann Talks New Profile, New Social Tools, Addresses Controversy

Cofounder and CEO Ben Silbermann also talks APIs and affiliate links at SXSW.

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann Talks New Profile, New Social Tools, Addresses Controversy
[Photo: Flickr user Dave Kirkham]


Pinterest, the addictive image collection and sharing site, will soon release a new profile page, possibly as soon as this week, and expand the types of items people can collect to include video.  CEO and cofounder Ben Silbermann said that the company is also working on ways to make attribution of shared media “easier and easier.”

The upgraded profile pages will help Pin-sters find other sharers they might want to follow. It will also show who people re-pin from, so that users can trace backward to find the individuals who are influencing the people you’re following.

The profile will also be “more beautiful,” said Silbermann. “We wanted to make your profile very different from the profile you might have on Facebook or Twitter,” he said during a panel today at SXSW in Austin,TX. “We wanted to make a snapshot of what you’re about.”

Sometime soon, Pinterest will expand the number of things users can pin, including videos from Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix. “Driving traffic out is really fundamental for us,” he said. “The mission of Pinterest is not to keep people on the site forever. It’s to get people out and to find those objects.”

Pinterest is also working on an API that one day will allow other companies to build apps that interact with the data on the site. But the company doesn’t have an exact date for that, Silbermann said. Pinterest’s first goal with the API is to expand their own site to other platforms, like the iPad. Only once that’s in place will Pinterest focus on opening itself to third parties.

“We don’t want to do it too early,” said Silbermann, who has said that the hardest thing for a startup is “focus.”


Similarly, Silbermann said that the company was spending more time on refining the product than on considering monetization strategies.

Responding to a question about affiliate tracking links that Pinterest had once implemented (which also became a subject of contention in the media last month), Silbermann said the Pinterest team had installed those in order to assess whether people were using the site in the ways “we were hoping they were using it”–namely as a way of helping them discover things out at other sites on the web.

“We put in an affiliate tracking system to try to understand that behavior,” Silbermann said. The company took down those links down shortly before the news about them broke.

E.B. Boyd is’s Silicon Valley reporter. Twitter | Google+ | Email

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E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) has holed up in conference rooms with pioneers in Silicon Valley and hunkered down in bunkers with soldiers in Afghanistan.