PINTEREST! PINTEREST! PINTEREST! I worship you.
First of all, this company’s office (as you can see from my obsessive amount of pictures–thank goodness they let us take them!) is mystical and inspiring, truly made in the product’s image. From the miniature hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling to the little P pillows, I don’t see how greatness could not be a product of this what seemed like, dream factory. I wanted to become miniaturized, jump into one of the hot air balloons, and fly away to Pinterestland.
We met with two of Pinterest’s data scientists, John and Dan. Both of them were very funny and comfortable with asking just about any question we threw their way. It was impressive because even though they were the tech guys, they were able to answer my more creative and target market questions. Right off the bat, I wanted to know how they were working to overcome the stereotype of being a site for American moms and how easy it is to “pin pinners.” They knew the business well enough to know what the company’s goals are in terms of reaching men and an international audience in the future. We also talked a lot about quantitative and qualitative research. Oddly enough, one of Pinterest’s big questions is, why do people use Pinterest? And what do they do/think while they are on it? You can answer this from a ver quantitative-numbercrunching standpoint or a very individual-user-based-experience standpoint. What was even more impressive was that they admitted that they didn’t have the answers but that is just one of things that keeps them there, there are so many problems to figure out and future changes to be explored.
Going back to this idea of why do people use Pinterest. Dan and John had, what I thought, some very good theories. First of all, it is a relentlessly positive atmosphere. For instance, studies have shown that Facebook actually makes you feel bad about yourself, intimidated by other’s success and a greater need to “keep up with the joneses.” This is not the case on Pinterest, it is used to inspire, to give hope to people about the future. Whether it be a new workout routine, a future living room makeover, wedding planning, etc., Pinterest acts as a dream board. Secondly, Pinterest is unusually beautiful. The grid layout of all your hopes and dreams is visually enticing and very organized. Thirdly, there is a very subtle element to Pinterest that is key: its infinite scroll. You are always curious as to what is coming up next and it never ends, just like the path to achieving your dreams. On a side note, Pinterest is very different from Google. It is a human powered visual search. They made the comparison that if you look up stripes on Google Images, you get very homogeneous results. On Pinterest, your results are diversified. You may get a striped dress, typography using stripes, or a zebra. Like the human mind, what comes up is unpredictable.
Another part of out conversation was in regards to revenue. I was curious, if Pinterest adopted advertising, how would they keep the user experience still based on users and not who pays the most to have their product show up. This is a monster they are going to have to tackle in the future, but I have faith in them.
It was amazing to take a tour of Pinterest’s office. We were able to eat their delicious food in what is set up like a middle school cafeteria (A LOT nicer of course). We looked at their Lego wall and unique employee driven decorating projects (including a very classy bar). My favorite part was this giant blue cabinet that was locally crafted by a respected cupboard maker. It was stunning and very intricate. We also found out that the CEO doesn’t have an office, he just goes around and sits with people, when he isn’t in meetings I guess!
Pinterest, you did not disappoint. You will be hearing from me shortly about a possible internship.