Pinterest has made another acquisition that could point to another way that it plans to increase interaction on its visual-search-and-discovery platform: It has acquired Jelly, the startup co-founded by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Ben Finkel in 2014 as a “human-powered search engine” — essentially an app that let people ask questions and get crowdsourced replies from their friends and friends of friends.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, Stone tells me in an email, along with some details about who is coming along with the acquisition.
“We’re not sharing numbers. (I never do.)” he told me. “Pinterest is interested in the majority of our tiny team, Ben and I will both be joining. Ben full time, me as Special Advisor.” Finkel had been an engineering manager at Twitter before co-founding Jelly as CTO.
These are some other details that have not yet been resolved by Jelly and Pinterest. “We’re still working out details, so there are unknowns. Will Jelly remain separate, or integrated somehow?” writes Stone in a blog post announcing the news.”Nevertheless, we are incredibly enthusiastic and certain, that this is the best decision for the future of human powered search and discovery. Jelly plus Pinterest is an exceedingly powerful match. A new adventure begins!”
There have been some other connections between Jelly and Pinterest in the past — namely, Biz Stone himself, who is an angel investor in the latter company, which has in total raised $1.3 billion and is valued at $11 billion (although that was in 2015 and valuations have fluctuated wildly), with more than 150 monthly active users.
Jelly, it’s safe to assume, has not raised quite that much or grown to quite that size. The exact amount it has raised has never been disclosed (although investors had been made public, and they are an illustrious list, including Al Gore, as well as large VC firms like Spark Capital and SV Angel, and others like Jack Dorsey and Bijan Sabet). But it sounds like they were considering raising more when this exit happened.
“My advice to entrepreneurs when raising another round, as Jelly was about to do, is to consider acquisition offers,” Stone writes. “Reasons for accepting vary. One reason is getting your work to millions of people right away. Ben and I deliberated and decided to take my own advice. Interest came from several companies. Among those companies was Pinterest. We talked.”
But for all the fame of the co-founders and hype when it first launched, Jelly’s business never, well, jelled.
According to SensorTower‘s director of data science, Sergey Bystritskiy, the app has only ranked in the top 1,500 for iOS sporadically since launching in 2014, so it’s hard to get reliable download estimates. It’s currently ranked at No. 1,293 for the Social Networking category on iPhone in U.S. The app never released an Android version, from what we understand.
At its height, the app received nearly 500,000 downloads in January 2014, the month it launched,, but in recent months it has been downloaded fewer than 1,000 times per month. About half of the app’s lifetime downloads came from the U.S., with Great Britain, Turkey, Russia and Canada being its most popular international territories.
Updated to note there was never an Android version of the app.