Wall Street is getting incredibly excited for the Facebook IPO set for later this year. But for the moment Silicon Valley is obsessed with another new hot startup, which is growing as fast as Facebook was in its early days. It's called Pinterest.
What's that you say?
"Think of it like a digital scrap board," says Jessi Hempel, Fortune's senior writer who wrote the magazine's cover story this week entitled, Is Pinterest The Next Facebook? "You put bulletin boards above your desk and you pull out pictures and put 'em up on the bulletin board. This is the sort of virtual rendition of that."
Hempel got an exclusive behind the scenes look at the company, which was started in 2010 by CEO and Co-Founder Ben Silbermann. The newest social magnet got his start with many women and "crafters" across the U.S. who were looking to share ideas for wedding planning and home renovation. Today both men and women, but more women, are using the site to "pin" or list their favorite things from fashion to food and recipes to travel destinations.
According to comScore figures, Pinterest has 17.8 million users, says Hempel, and the number of users increased 50% in March from February. Pinterest requires users to request an invitation from the site before being able to join.
Facebook had 845 million monthly active users at the end of 2011 and more than 400 million active mobile users, according to the company's website.
Pinterest has a long way to go before catching up to Facebook, but Hempel suggests Pinterest could give Facebook a run for its money.
"Yes, Facebook's investors should be worried about anything that is taking the time that Facebook users used to spend on Facebook," Hempel tells The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget in the accompany interview. "Pinterest is 20 guys in a room, right now.... Facebook is what? 3,000 people in a very large office park."
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