Pinterest Asks Court To Dismiss Influencer’s Claim That She’s An Uncredited Cofounder

Pinterest wants a lawsuit brought by a woman claiming to be an uncredited cofounder dismissed, saying she played no role in the company’s start.

Christine Martinez, who has long operated as a popular influencer on Pinterest, originally filed against Pinterest in September, alleging breach of implied contract, idea theft, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices. Martinez maintains she helped the company’s acknowledged founders Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra get Pinterest going in 2009 when the two were shifting focus from a shopping app to what became the social media company.

Pinterest went public in 2019, and its stock has proposed during the pandemic as more users browsed its app while at home. Silbermann remains the company’s CEO. Sciarra left soon after the company began. Both still hold lucrative stakes in the company worth more than $1 billion.

In a new legal filing in California Superior Court, Pinterest further presses for dismissal by arguing that Martinez waited too long to bring this up, her claims falling outside the statutes of limitation. Martinez hasn’t specified exactly how much she thinks she’s entitled to, though a stake in Pinterest similar to Silbermann’s and Sciarra’s would be worth over a billion dollars.

It’s unclear why Martinez waited more than a decade to press her claims, while former and current employees at Pinterest have said they have little to no recollection of her. She is not described in any previous news coverage of the company as a cofounder, and in her 2012 book how to succeed on Pinterest, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pinterest Marketing, she describes herself only as an “early adopter.”

The battle between Martinez and Pinterest is made complicated by several things. While she may or may not have been a cofounder, what’s clear is that she and Silbermann were once friends, reportedly close enough to appear in Silbermann’s wedding party. Further, Pinterest was hit last year by complaints from several employees that it mistreated female staff and people of color.

Last month, it pledged to spend $50 million on diversity initiatives within the company, ending litigation brought by Pinterest shareholders. In 2020, it agreed to pay $22.5 million to former Chief Operating Officer Françoise Brougher, who had brought a case alleging racial and gender discrimination.

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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: Pinterest Asks Court To Dismiss Influencer’s Claim That She’s An Uncredited Cofounder

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Critics:

Pinterest has settled a lawsuit brought against it by shareholders who claimed that the company’s workplace discrimination against women and racial minorities hurt its reputation, according to NBC News. The company reportedly agreed to spend $50 million on improving its diversity and equity, and will let former employees talk about racial or gender discrimination they experienced, even if they were bound by a non-disclosure agreement. Other financial details of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

The lawsuit was filed against the company’s executives in November 2020, with shareholder claiming that the company was acting irresponsibly by doing nothing to address “widespread claims of race and gender discrimination.” The complaint also accused the company’s CEO of “surrounding himself with yes-men and marginalizing women who dared to challenge Pinterest’s White, male leadership clique.”

That year, multiple women reported that Pinterest paid them less than male employees, and some reported racial discrimination and retaliation for speaking out. The Verge also reported on discrimination within the company’s finance team. Separately, the company paid out $20 million to its former COO Françoise Brougher after she alleged that the company paid her less than male colleagues, didn’t invite her to important meetings, and fired her after she brought up the issues.

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