Pinterest Ads Prepping For IPO

NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- Pinterest is taking the next step to becoming a public company by kicking off promotional pins. Following in the footsteps of Facebook ( FB) and Twitter, Pinterest announced yesterday that it would begin to sell advertising, by pushing promoted pins. The company called it planning for the future and said it needed to do so in order to be able to stick around.

Pinterest is incredibly popular - third only to Facebook and Tumblr for the amount of time people spend on the site, roughly 98 minutes a month. ConScore says the site gets 28 million monthly visitors. A third of all Pinterest users make more than $100,000 a year and they are mostly female, an advertisers dream.

The San Francisco-based social network knows who its audience is, as the announcement to begin placing ads had a decidedly feminine approach, with the first sentence referring to the birth of CEO Ben Silbermann's first child. Clearly, Pinterest is going for the "awww" factor when people began to read the news.

Pinterest insists there will be no banner or pop-up ads, with the ads being "tasteful." In addition, the site says the promoted pins will be relevant and transparent in that you will know it's a promoted pin. For example, if you are searching for Halloween ideas, a pin promoting a costume from a store may appear.

The company had to do something. Page views and user popularity only work for so long before investors want to see some monetization, which means ads. Companies such as Whole Foods Markets ( WFM) already use the site for commercial purposes. The Whole Foods page is packed with beautiful pictures of food and recipes, all while promoting the company.

Investors include FirstMark Capital, SV Angel, Highline Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, among others. FirstMark Capital was the first institutional investor in Pinterest and has jumped in on every round, even joining in the $100 million capital raise done in May of 2012. So with $200 million in financing, it's clear that the investors want to start to see an exit strategy, which could pay off handsomely.

I suggested last year that Pinterest could be worth $7.7 billion, which seemed outlandish at the time. However, if Twitter looks like it could be worth $10-11 billion and Facebook is worth $112 billion, then maybe I wasn't too far off the mark.

--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Debra Borchardt.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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