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Pinterest’s CEO doesn’t regret giving his phone number to early users



Ben Silbermann
Pinterest cofounder and
CEO Ben Silbermann.

Johnson/Business Insider

  • Pinterest reaches 250
    million users every day and is reported to exceed $700 million
    in annual ad revenue, making the photo-sharing site worth $12
  • In the early days of Pinterest, cofounder and CEO Ben Silbermann included his
    personal number in an email signature so users could reach him
    if they had issues with the site.
  • Many users called Silbermann with questions outside of the
    site, like computer issues, but he doesn’t regret making himself
    available — it was about building a Pinterest community.

When image-sharing site Pinterest was launched in 2010, cofounder
and CEO Ben Silbermann put his personal phone number on every
company email to make sure early users could always reach him in
case the site went down.

“I remember I used to put my cellphone number on every outbound
email. Because I wanted to make sure that if Pinterest wasn’t
working, you had somebody to call. And so I would get calls at
all times of the night, all through the day,” Silbermann said on
an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success.”

With 250 million active users today, Pinterest is reported to
exceed $700 million in annual ad revenue and is valued at $12
according to the New York Times

In its early phase, Silbermann wanted to cater a product around
consumers and was extremely focused on making Pinterest’s user
experience as easy and enjoyable as it could be. Silbermann said
he built a team around Pinterest that could execute just that.

“Because the thing that kept us working really hard was we really
wanted to make the folks that were using the product have an
amazing experience,” he said.

To ensure users had a positive experience on the site, Silbermann
added his cellphone number to all outbound company emails. But
users wouldn’t exclusively call Silbermann for Pinterest
questions, they were looking for various types of tech support.

“Every user had my cellphone number. And you’d get calls from
people that just wanted general technology support, like not even
to do with Pinterest. They’re like, ‘My computer’s really slow,'”
he said.

Read more:

The CEO of multibillion-dollar
Pinterest knew he was onto something when he started getting
personal emails from panicked users

Over time Silbermann had to remove his personal number from his
email signature because his phone constantly rang. But Silbermann
doesn’t regret making himself unequivocally available for early
Pinterest users. He said he was building a community around
Pinterest for active users and employees.

“So eventually I had to get rid of that cellphone number because
it was going off all the time.” Silbermann said. “But it was more
the ethos that every early user would feel like they were part of
a special community, and we were really dedicated to giving them
a great experience.”

Listen to
the full episode
and subscribe to “This Is Success” on

Apple Podcasts
or wherever you listen.

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