Pinterest’s Tim Kendall Talks Monetization And Commerce

Tim Kendall’s new job is to make sure Pinterest’s partners are finding new ways to make money off one of the most engaging platforms on the Internet. He’s been plenty busy since he got started, including launching Buyable Pins. We sat down with him to find out a little bit more about the company’s commerce plans.

“It is tempting to draw a buy button on a product and say you’ve enabled commerce,” Kendall said. “In our case we feel like we’ve built the full end-to-end capability. We now offer 2.5 million products that are buyable.”

Kendall said, with the buy button, the company has essentially captured all parts of the marketing funnel — from awareness and intent all the way to the purchase. The company has products that sync up with all of these, ranging from ads like cinematic pins, to guided search and finally a buy button.

pinterest-businessBuyable Pins launched in June earlier this year, giving partners a way to add a button to buy things directly from Pinterest. It’s working with a small number of partners at launch, but merchants can also use Shopify and Demandware. Buyable Pins started rolling out on the iPhone and iPad in late June.

Kendall was at Facebook for more than four years helping the company build its original ad products, and then helped Tumblr design their ad system. He’s been at Pinterest for the past three and a half years. Kendall met with CEO Ben Silbermann, who told him that he wanted to do for discovery “what Google did for search.” And earlier this year he took over the role of GM of monetization, where he got Buyable Pins off the ground.

“I had this experience as a kid with the Sharper Image — when i was a kid there was no Internet,” he said. “My window to the outside world was an encyclopedia and TV, I suppose. But I remember [The Sharper Image] coming and it being almost this religious experience. No one’s really solved it online, on the phone.”

Pinterest was last reported to have a valuation of $11 billion as part of a funding round led by Rakuten. It also began opening up its developer platform and rolled out its first integrations last month. It continues to roll out new marketing tools, as well, increasingly making that valuation make sense as the company builds more and more commerce tools for marketers and partners.

“The big thing that I’ve focused on is making sure, as partners are enabling us to take in their products or take in their content, that we have as much info about their objects they’re handing us as possible,” he said. “Because if we have a lot of info, we can build amazing experiences, amazing handcrafted catalogs.”