On his first visit to Cannes, Ben Silbermann, CEO and co-founder of Pinterest, showed up eager to contrast his site to Google’s. And the site’s first ad underscored his message—that technology is only as important as the creativity it inspires.
People, not algorithms, put the magic into digital a-ha moments, Silbermann told the audience. The image-driven site may be rooted in interesting technology, but ultimately it’s all about visual splendor and creativity. He unveiled the company’s first ad, which showed featured people using Pinterest to get excited about heading off on a trip, working out, or setting up a barbequing area in their yard.
In the early 1900s, people went to libraries to look things up. Google is like the Dewey Decimal system, founded to help people navigate the stacks, Silbermann said. But to find reliable sources of inspiration for esoteric topics, they headed to the picture collection of the New York Public Library. That resource was inspiring.
Seeing What’s Possible
Google changed the world: Now you can do a get a quick snapshot of someone’s life before you go out for dinner with her. But search doesn’t answer open-ended, creativity-based questions, Silbermann said. Pinterest is searchable and creative. “We have tens of millions of curators and tens of billions of images,” he said. “It’s all about seeing what is possible.”
Finding Your Crowd
Pinterest doesn’t just share collections. It allows you to find collections of similar tastes, to delve deeper into your own tastes and preferences. What kind of furniture do you want to set up? What kind of wedding would you like? Pinterest helps you figure those things out.
Bred in the Bone
Pinterest “unlocks the genius of people,” Silbermann said. Being a genius isn’t necessarily being masterful. Rather, the term is derived from the Latin word genere, meaning inborn ability. We all have some, he said, and they key is to have a place to tap into it.