Pinterest today has made a couple of moves aimed at bolstering its ads and commerce offerings. The company behind the popular visual discovery engine has acquired services The Hunt and Pext. Both of these companies will be shuttered as a result, and financial terms of the deal were not released.
Within Pinterest, the secret sauce is its discovery capability, especially its ability to help you find something you may not have known existed. Michael Lopp, the company’s head of engineering, describes this as “building serendipity,” and it’s expected that The Hunt and Pext will provide resources for improving searches, both organic and through promoted means.
Started by Simon Peck and Tim Weingarten, The Hunt is a crowdsourced shopping experience that focuses on helping users find and purchase items. Users join the site and post a photo of what they’re looking for, pulling images from a website, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. Other members then help the user find the item they’re seeking. The Hunt has raised $16.2 million in funding over the past two years. As a result of the acquisition, it will be shutting down earlier next year.
Pext is an app developed by OMG Labs that turns text messages into memes by helping users discover images relevant to their messages. Pinterest’s interest here is in Pext’s image indexing, advertising technology, and discovery mechanism. Pext founder Harsh Goel is joining Pinterest, while Pext is closing down and has already withdrawn its mobile apps from the App Store and Google Play Store.
It’s worth noting that Pinterest’s aquisitions aren’t for primarily for technology, but for talent. In Pext’s case, 100 percent of the team is being carried over. With The Hunt, a Pinterest spokesperson told VentureBeat that only some of the core product team have been given offers, including cofounder and chief executive Weingarten — exact numbers were not provided.
Lopp said in a statement: “We welcome the talented teams from The Hunt and Pext to Pinterest. As some of the best minds in mobile shopping, monetization, and image indexing technologies, their contributions will be incredibly valuable as we continue to build a discovery engine that helps people plan their everyday lives.”
Indeed, the inclusion of both of these companies will aid Pinterest in improving its search capability so that people will be better able to find what they’re looking for. As Weingarten joins the company’s commerce team, he’ll likely be leveraging his experience in assisting with conversion — how do you help someone find something and then convert them into a paying customer? Those lucky Hunt employees who are to be kept on post-acquisition will be transitioning to the engineering and data science teams. As for Goel, he’ll join the engineering team to work on ads, specifically how to connect the right Pinners with the relevant Pins.
With more than 100 million people using its service, Pinterest must continue to step up its game and show it’s able to get you the information or site you need at a moment’s notice. Lopp said that 75 percent of all content saved on Pinterest is pulled from brand websites, making them a crucial part of the discovery process. So with the teams from The Hunt and Pext, Pinterest feels confident it now has the teams in place to really take advantage of Promoted Pins, Buyable Pins, and organic searches on the site in order to properly monetize engagement.
These are Pinterest’s eighth and ninth acquisitions, following similar deals with Punchfork, Livestar, Hackermeter, Visual Graph, Icebergs, Kosei, and Hike Labs.