Most radically successful tech firms dream of an I.P.O. (Initial Public Offering). They cash in, become Billionaires, and the employees all start buying cars that ends with the letter ‘i’. But it seems Pinterest has created a new category – the
Initial Public Grand Opening”
What’s that you ask?
To sign up for Pinterest, [Pinterest Sign-Up page], you can either receive an invitation from them, or an existing user. I’ve called that their ‘invitation only beta’. We believe the company will, at some point in the near future, allow a sign-up process that doesn’t require an invitation. I’m calling that their Initial Public Grand Opening. And as events & milestones in Silicon Valley go, this one will be ‘insanely great’.
The real question is, what will it mean for the growth rate, and user experience?
Growth Rate Facts: Here is what we already know:
- Pinterest already has what Techies like to call, “Hockey Stick” growth – up & to the right on a line-chart.
- Per TechCrunch & Comscore, [article], it has already achieved 10 million users faster than any other stand-alone website in history.
- It is, according to people who have a good memory, growing faster than Facebook did in 2006.
- But in a lot of places, Pinterest is still completely unknown, or used by a very small number of early adopters. In the U.K. for example, there are just 200,000 users, [infographic comparing US & UK Pinterest users].
- According to a Techcrunch calculation, [spreadsheet], if Pinterest maintains it’s current growth rate, it will have 187 Million users by November of 2012.
- Pinterest is already the
5th4th (dang it, I can’t keep up), largest social network, [Hitwise tracking page], and creates referral traffic on par with Twitter, which has 500 million users. Did you follow that? Pinterest has 13 million-ish users (as of this writing) Twitter has 500 Million. And Pinterest out refers, (meaning drives more visitors to websites), than Twitter. Imagine what it will do when it’s all grown up?!
So what will the effect of the IPGO be on the growth rate? All we can do is speculate, but it’s got to increase it substantially. It lowers the barrier to entry. Although there is a brilliance to the exclusivity that has clearly helped Pinterest generate an extra dose of buzz.
I believe the smart folks at Pinterest are probably monitoring the enrollment rate very closely, and have figured out a wise plan to launch the IPGO at an optimal time. I would guess they might also be considering an IPGO in a Country-by-Country way, and test the concept in a place like Canada, or the U.K. just to see what it does. Then, optimize, and launch in the U.S.
User Experience Guess: My wife says Pinterest was more visually interesting six months ago than it is now. I think she’s right. And there has been a lot of talk about the increase in users creating a decrease in image quality, and it’s impact on the overall user experience. But I don’t believe this dynamic will fundamentally damage useage rates. I believe as people grow in their experience using Pinterest they will adopt a practice of unfollowing, and ‘churn’ through people in pursuit of their ideal visual experience. I’m already doing that, and I think most people are, even if they haven’t articulated it.
We look at our home-screen upon logging in, and take a mental snap-shot. And if we don’t like what we see, we start to ask the question, “should I be following (fill in the user name). They always pin things I find boring/dumb/uninteresting/offensive/. Eventually,
We will curate users, not images”
So what will the IPGO do to user experience? I don’t think it will damage it. I think most users have already permanently installed Pinterest in their lifestyle as a tool, like Wikipedia, (only image driven instead of word driven & with an element of social-ness added like a cherry on top). But the IPGO will alter our behavior within Pinterest. Can you imagine what it will be like when 20,000 car dealerships all start pinning each car they have for sale? Wow, nightmare scenario. But again, if you curate your list of people you follow, then you’ll create your own user experience, and create the visual environment you want.
In the end, it’s all a really amazing experiment. It will be fun to see how it plays out.