Tech investment dreams are now pinned on Pinterest’s looming IPO

9 Apr 2019

Pinterest logo. Image: rozelt/Depositphotos

The velocity at which unicorns are announcing massive IPOs is increasing, but the road is full of pitfalls.

In the wake of taxi app Lyft’s rocky IPO in recent weeks, scrapbook social network Pinterest is the latest unicorn to reveal plans to enter the public markets.

At a price range of $15 to $17 per share, Pinterest is valued at around $9bn, less than the $12bn valuation in its last venture capital funding round.

The company is set to raise around $1.3bn if all goes to plan. It will list under the symbol PINS on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is the latest tech giant to plan to go public after seemingly endless rounds of venture capital, and its performance and experience will be instructive for other unicorns such as Slack, which is planning to go public soon, and Stripe, which is hotly tipped to go public in the year ahead but no plans have yet been revealed.

Lyft’s IPO has resulted in litigation being threatened against rival Uber’s underwriter Morgan Stanley over alleged claims of short-selling disrupting the stock’s performance. This is a warning sign that arriving on the public markets is not a destination per se. If anything, a public listing can often be a journey fraught with all kinds of unexpected obstacles.

Putting a pin in it

Pinterest’s performance could be viewed as a litmus test for other tech firms about to dip their toe in the public markets.

The platform last year surpassed the 250m-user milestone, announcing at the time that more than 175bn ‘ideas’ had been shared, ranging from recipes to fashion, holidays, cars, art – you name it.

The platform was founded in 2009 by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp, modelled on the idea of a scrapbook for things that you love and are influenced by.

“At a time when the internet can feel increasingly negative and politicised, we think it’s remarkable that a quarter of a billion people are choosing to spend their time on Pinterest, a place that helps them feel positive and optimistic about the future,” Sharp said in a blogpost at the time.

Let’s hope that when it happens, Pinterest’s IPO gives the tech world a reason to feel optimistic about the future.

Pinterest logo pinned to a wall. Image: rozelt/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years