Ben Silbermann, co-founder and former CEO of Pinterest, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as leader of the social media site.
Starting Wednesday, Bill Ready, who previously ran Google’s e-commerce company, will take on the role of CEOwhile Silbermann transitions to the newly created position of Executive Chairman.
Silbermann was responsible for much of Pinterest’s growth, helping the site grow to 400 million monthly active users. During the pandemic, it saw a huge surge in interest. and the stock rose accordingly, reaching nearly $90 a share at its peak. Over the past year, however, the company’s stock has plummeted and closed below $20 on Tuesday. (Shares were up 4% in aftermarket trading.)
There were problems within the company. Last November, Pinterest settled a lawsuit accusing it of doing nothing to address “widespread claims of discrimination based on race and gender.” Silbermann, it said, surrounded himself “with yes-men, marginalizing women who dared to challenge Pinterest’s white, male leadership clique.”
Company also paid $20 million to his former COO Françoise Brougher in 2020, after claiming she was paid less than male colleagues, was not invited to important meetings and was fired after speaking out about these issues.
At the same time, Pinterest garnered praise among Silbermann’s watch for fighting misinformation about vaccines and climate change, offering vetted content instead of the usual algorithmic search results. This has set the site apart from other social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook in recent years as both struggled to contain the spread of conspiracy theories and outright lies.
Pinterest has also been successful enough at what it does to attract followers, including Google. The search giant, in 2020, Google Collections rolled out to let users put their searches into, well, collections, which had a very Pinterest-like quality to them.
“I want to thank every employee – past and present – who helped build Pinterest,” Silbermann wrote in a LinkedIn message† “So much attention is paid to founders and CEOs. But the truth is that anything worth building is built by a team. I feel so lucky that thousands of exceptional, extremely talented, creative and kind people have joined our journey. Being part of the Pinterest team with all of you has always been the most enjoyable part of the job.”
Ready’s appointment to the CEO role comes as Pinterest has increasingly focused on e-commerce in recent years. Earlier this year, the company acquired The Yesan AI shopping platform, to accelerate its goals in space.
Before his two-year tenure at Google, Ready was chief operating officer of PayPal and CEO of Venmo, all roles that fit well with the company’s plans. For example, earlier this year he helped launch a feature on Google that allows people to go from a store listing on a search results page to the company’s checkout with a single click.
“There’s no better time to join Pinterest,” Ready said in a statement. “I’ve long admired the brand and platform Ben and the Pinterest team have created and everything the company stands for. † † † Having built multiple businesses from scratch and working at the scale of billions of users, I have a deep appreciation for what it takes to take a business like this to the next level. I’m looking forward to . † † [capitalizing] about the many opportunities that lie ahead and ring[ing] in Pinterest’s next chapter on growth and success.”