Pininterest

Pinterest should file for an IPO

February 16, 2012: 12:31 PM ET

How to slow Pinsanity.

Nothing gets tech bloggers more hot and bothered than the next new social media thing, and right now that thing is Pinterest.

The digital scrapbooking startup has all the right ingredients: Rapid user adoption (11 million unique visitors last month), big-name VC backers (Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer, etc.) and no idea how it's going to make money (if you scale it, revenue will come).

But the fervor is beginning to get a bit out of hand. Today Pinterest got a Wall Street Journal profile, complete with its own Pinterest page. Yesterday during a SecondMarket conference panel, social media analyst Lou Kerner suggested Pinterest is the sort of company that could help fill the volume void that will be left on the secondary markets once Facebook goes public. In short:

I certainly don't begrudge Pinterest its fawning publicity, particularly since it must be helping to create new users. But I've also got to wonder if, long-term, Pinterest isn't beginning to worry a bit about living up to its own hype. After all, there comes a future point when people don't pay attention to a company's actual success because they (mistakenly) believe it was achieved years ago.

So I have a suggestion for Pinterest: File for an IPO.

Seriously. There is no surer way for your tech media lapdogs to suddenly morph into serious-minded journalists devoted to taking some bloom off the rose. Just ask Groupon (GRPN). Or Zynga (ZNGA). Or even Facebook.

Look at all the critical stuff that's been written about Zuckerberg's social network since it filed to go public last month. I'm not talking about the age-old privacy bugaboos, but things ranging from corporate governance grievances to user growth worries to concerns that the social network is too reliant on Zynga for revenue (yes, Zynga faced the same charge from the opposite direction).

Some of this scrutiny is simply the result of greater transparency, and reporters getting to dig into previously-undisclosed company data. But a larger part is the intrinsic desire to (partially) tear down what has previously been built up, and what better time than when Joe Investor might be able to get a piece of Silicon Valley's private stash?

So when Pinterest begins to think the white lights have begun to burn a bit too brightly, it should begin drawing up its S-1 document. Not to actually go public (that would be absurd), but just to preemptively take itself down a notch. Consider it a long-term growth strategy.

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