Technology

Pinterest IPO priced at $19 per share

Amount above original proposed price range

(CNN) - Pinterest, a social platform for bookmarking pictures from around the web, priced its initial public offering at $19 a share on Wednesday.

The amount was above its original proposed price range of $15 to $17 a share. The strong demand for the IPO may ease investor concerns about the stampede of tech unicorns racing to go public this year after Lyft's lackluster Wall Street debut.

Lyft, which began trading on Nasdaq at the end of March, has since been hammered by investors due in part to worries over its steep losses. Its stock opened at $56.50 a share on Wednesday, more than 20% below its IPO price of $72.

Zoom, a video conferencing company, also priced shares above its original proposed range at $36 each on Wednesday. Unlike most of the other brand name technology companies going public this year, Zoom is profitable and still growing sales fast.

Both Pinterest and Zoom are set to begin trading on Thursday.

Pinterest was founded in 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra, the last of whom parted ways with the company early in its history. Over the years, Pinterest has tried to evolve from being a digital scrapbooking service to a visual discovery tool, positioning it as a potential competitor to products like Google Search.

Under Silbermann's leadership, Pinterest chose to move slower and more deliberately in stark contrast to the faster pace of larger rivals like Facebook. The company resisted throwing money at its problems, debated product tweaks extensively and did not rush to copy features that helped larger competitors achieve viral growth, according to former employees.

"It's not a move fast and break things type of culture," said Danny Karubian, a partner at Valiant Capital, which led a $200 million round of funding in 2013. Instead, he described the leadership's approach as "be very thoughtful and strategic about each action you take."

Karubian told CNN Business this week he believes Silbermann will "continue with that sort of philosophy and culture" after Pinterest goes public.

The benefit of that approach can be seen in Pinterest's financial results. The company generated more than $750 million in revenue for 2018 — an increase of 60% from the prior year — while shrinking its losses to $63 million, which practically rounds up to profitability compared to other venture-capital-backed darlings like Uber, which lost $1.8 billion in the same year. In fact, Pinterest was in the black in the fourth quarter.

More than that, Pinterest has avoided much of the scrutiny and backlash that have hit other social platforms. Pinterest's CMO has even pitched the service as "one of the truly positive corners of the Internet."

But Pinterest's audience size and engagement remain well behind many of the companies it cites as competitors. The platform has more than 250 million monthly users, according to its IPO prospectus. Unlike Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, Pinterest chose not to disclose its number of daily active users and said that it does "not anticipate that most of our users" will use the service on a daily basis.

After going public, Snapchat and Twitter both struggled to win over investors who judged their sluggish user growth against Facebook's staggering audience, which now measures in the billions. Pinterest has long insisted it's not an outright social media company, but it could nonetheless face similar investor concerns about user growth once it's public.


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