Pinterest developed out of a site called Tote which allowed you to ‘pin’ your favourite retail items onto lists and share them with your friends. Noticing that the pinning was more popular than the buying they decided to refocus on the pinning part of their business and became Pinterest.
What they did:
Like Flickr, the founders of Tote realized that one part of their business wasn’t working for them and cut it, to focus on what was working for them.
Why were they able to transition successfully?
The change of direction wasn’t so much a change of direction as a progression, albeit a tangential one. You could argue that Tote was like a chrysalis from which the butterfly of Pinterest emerged. This a doubly appropriate analogy because Ben Silbermann, the Founder of Pinterest describes his early collection of bugs and insects as Pinterest 1.0.
- They refocused towards something they already did well, and were excited about.
- They followed what their customers wanted. Sounds simple, not always so easy to do.
- They understood their userbase, not only analysing the way they used Tote, but also the psychological drivers of their behaviour
If you’ve found this interesting, you may enjoy reading more about it here in this interview with Pinterest’s first investor
And here, in a great pictorial history of Pinterest’s development from Tote to the superstar it is now