It would make sense for Polyvore, the five-year-old website that lets users make fashion collages using images clipped from any online store, to feel competitive with Pinterest, the virtual pinboard site that is the web’s current fashion and design darling. But in fact, Polyvore co-founders Jess Lee and Pasha Sadri said today in an interview with TechCrunch TV, Polyvore has decided to work with Pinterest, not against it — and the company is seeing some very impressive growth as a result.
Turning Pinners Into Polyvore Users
Polyvore added 2 million new monthly uniques in February alone, the company told me exclusively in our interview. That brings its monthly unique visitor count to 15 million. Fully one million of those new uniques were referrals from Pinterest, CEO Jess Lee said, a relationship that the site is encouraging, having recently added a “Pin It” button to make it easier for people to share their Polyvore collages there.
It’s an interesting place that Polyvore’s in: It’s found a way to use the crazily powerful “Pinterest effect” to get more users of its own, and consequently make more money. Of course, many other websites aren’t built to capitalize on Pinterest’s popularity in such a way — a number of individual photographers, for instance, have complained about Pinterest’s stance on copyright issues. For them, a photo’s viral success on Pinterest does not always translate into success for the image’s creator. That’s a big issue in itself that will almost surely shake out in interesting ways. But for its part, Polyvore seems positioned to avoid such pitfalls.
Nabbing The CFO Who Sold AdMob to Google
Another bit of news Lee and Sadri shared is that Polyvore has brought on its first ever CFO: Cheryl Dalrymple, who previously served as CFO at AdMob where she oversaw the company’s growth and $750 million sale to Google. See, the thing about Polyvore is that it is actually making real money from all the eyeballs it attracts. The company became profitable last year, and in January closed on a $14 million Series C funding round bringing its total VC backing to $22 million. Dalrymple has come aboard to oversee those growing financial operations.
Making high fashion to the masses — really
Polyvore's larger message is about "democratizing fashion" — it sounds a bit pie in the sky on the surface, but it's hard to overstate how much things have changed in terms of the fashion world embracing the web in the five years since Polyvore first launched. When I interviewed for a job at a Condé Nast fashion magazine back in 2006 (yes, my career could have gone down a very different route) I distinctly remember asking a top Editor-in-Chief there about what they were doing on the web. She practically snorted, and told me that they weren’t focused on that at all — and probably never would be, saying: “Top fashion just doesn’t mix with the Internet.”
Obviously, it turns out, she was wrong. And with the ongoing growth of more established sites such as Polyvore and Pinterest and upstarts such as Pose and others, it seems in lots of ways like this is just the beginning.