Influencer Sues Pinterest, Alleging She Cofounded The Company and Might’ve Been A Billionaire Today

A widely followed Pinterest influencer has filed a lawsuit against the company and its billionaire cofounders, saying she helped start the business but was cut out of any financial rewards.

Christine Martinez, a former Walmart executive turned online personality, says she counseled Pinterest founders Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra as they initially worked on the firm around its start in 2008. According to the lawsuit, Martinez advised the pair on many different aspects of the company, including its signature visual-bookmarking feature and the ability to create collections of images called “boards,” and helped find influencers to promote the site. She originally met Silbermann through her husband, who had lived with Silbermann while studying at Yale.

Martinez says she never had anything in writing about her status as a cofounder but expected to be compensated similar to Silbermann, Sciarra and a third cofounder, Evan Sharp. Silbermann remains Pinterest’s CEO, and Sharp works there still as its chief design and creative officer. Sciarra left Pinterest within a few years of its founding. Silbermann and Sciarra retain billion-dollar stakes in the company.

A Pinterest spokesperson dismissed Martinez’s story as “completely without merit and we will defend our position in court.” In the litigation, Martinez accused Silbermann and Sciarra of breach of implied contract, idea theft, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices.

Martinez’s allegations will likely revive questions about how Pinterest, a social network popular among women, treats its female executives. Last year, Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, Françoise Brougher, sued the company, alleging gender discrimination. Pinterest settled in December for $22.5 million but only after additional comments and stories about racism and inequities at the company surfaced from other Pinterest workers, prompting a virtual staff walkout last August.

In court documents, Martinez’s attorneys say she believed she’d be rewarded after the company went public, which it did in 2019. If that is the case, it would’ve been hard to sit on the sideline recently: The company shares struggled at first but soared during last year’s coronavirus lockdown—they trade for around $55 today, roughly double from the IPO—as Pinterest saw a marked increase in users.

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I’m a senior editor at Forbes, where I cover social media, creators and internet culture. In the past, I’ve edited across Forbes magazine and Forbes.com.

Source: Influencer Sues Pinterest, Alleging She Cofounded The Company—And Might’ve Been A Billionaire Today

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CEO Ben Silbermann on Why Pinterest Has a Responsibility to Make the Internet a Better Place

The internet is a messy place where not everyone has the best intentions. What role tech companies have in responding to that reality has become one of the central questions in business. For Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, the role his company–and other online brands–ought to play is quite clear.

“I think the lesson that everyone’s learned over the last few years is that if you want positive things to come out of internet technology, they have to be deliberately engineered that way,” Silbermann said Tuesday on stage at this year’s National Retail Federation’s annual conference and expo in New York City.

While Silbermann didn’t explain who he meant by “everyone,” anyone paying attention likely was thinking about Facebook and other big tech companies that have taken a more hands-off approach to dealing with bad actors. As a site where most users are there to pin pretty pictures and do the internet-equivalent of window shopping, Pinterest has not been at the center of conversations about the tech industry’s role in handling misinformation in politics. Still, the company has faced its own dilemmas around how much to control what users see on its platform–and more often than not, Silbermann said, Pinterest intervenes.

He explained that in Pinterest’s early days, he and his team hand-picked people to join the service. Back then, Pinterest tried to influence the behavior of the small group of users by sending them an email explaining the rules and etiquette of the service and hoping people led by example. Things have grown much more complicated since then. Now Silbermann and his team are faced with how to encourage that same good behavior among 320 million global users.

“If you care about the well being of the people who use your service, you have to care about the content and the things they do on that service,” Silbermann said.

As an example, he said that a few years ago, his team noticed a growing number of users searching Pinterest for information on vaccines and other medical issues. Silbermann said that’s when the company made the decision that, as a starting point, Pinterest would not surface vaccine content when people looked for it because the company couldn’t verify that the information on its platform was credible.

Over the last year, Silbermann said the company has decided to take a proactive role in surfacing content only from top public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when people search for pins on vaccines.

Screenshot via Anna Meyer

Similarly, Silbermann cited Pinterest’s approach to handling users’ searches for content around anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health topics. Last year, the company decided to surface pins featuring wellness activities, such as breathing exercises and meditation, in response to those searches by U.S. users (international users will start to see similar results this year). Before, users might have surfaced only generic quotes about happiness and perseverance when searching something like “work stress.” Pinterest also has disabled searches around certain terms it has deemed harmful, such as “self harm,” “bulimia,” and “thinspiration,” according to a Wired report last year.

With hundreds of millions of users, staying on top of disturbing trends in searches–and coming up with the best response to them–is no easy task. Pinterest says that it works with organizations that specialize in relevant fields to come up with approved, trustworthy content on hot-button issues. Still, it’s a huge responsibility to be in the position of deciding what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

For his part, Silbermann acknowledged the enormity of the task–and suggested he wouldn’t do it any other way.

“We think that content actually has an impact on people’s lives. And so if you don’t take some responsibility for what people see, you’re at some level responsible for the downstream consequences,” Silbermann told the audience Tuesday.

By Anna MeyerWeb producer, Inc.com

Source: CEO Ben Silbermann on Why Pinterest Has a Responsibility to Make the Internet a Better Place

Pinterest Is a Great Company But Its Stock Is Dangerously Overvalued

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Pinterest has over 150 MILLION active users and is the fastest growing social media site based on member signups
Over 2 MILLION pinners save shopping pins daily and growing
93% Of Users Say They Use Pinterest To Plan Purchases
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Pinterest officially filed for IPO Startups

Pinterest officially filed for IPO as one of prominent tech startups getting ready to go public in 2019. Pinterest should be one of the first IPOs of all announced, while Lyft is preparing to take off on March 30th as the first tech IPO for 2019….

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