Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann Steps Down as Chief Executive

Ben Silbermann, a founder and chief executive of Pinterest, stepped down from the top job on Tuesday after more than a decade of running the digital pinboard service and taking it public.

Pinterest did not give a reason for the change. Mr. Silbermann, 39, will become executive chairman. Bill Ready, who has run divisions within PayPal and Google, was appointed Pinterest’s new chief executive.

Mr. Silbermann helped found Pinterest in 2010 and oversaw its growth into a place where 431 million people, mostly women, save and share ideas for shopping, hobbies and recipes. Last year, the company generated $316 million in profit on revenue of $2.6 billion.

Mr. Silbermann called his time leading Pinterest “the gift of a lifetime.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2019, he took Pinterest public amid a stampede of so-called unicorn start-ups that had waited as long as possible to tap the public markets and achieved sky-high valuations from private investors.

Pinterest shares reached a high of $85 in February 2021 and closed at $19.70 on Tuesday, valuing the company at $13 billion — only slightly more than it was worth before it went public. Its shares rose 4 percent in after-hours trading on the news of Mr. Silbermann’s exit as chief executive.

Pinterest had developed a reputation as a “nice” company that eschewed Silicon Valley’s start-up playbook of macho, swaggering hype, partly because of its female user base and Mr. Silbermann’s press-shy reputation. But in recent years, the company came under fire as employees spoke out about their experiences with racism and sexism in the workplace.

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In 2020, two former Pinterest employees, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, tweeted about racist and sexist comments, pay inequities and retaliation that they had experienced at the company. Françoise Brougher, Pinterest’s No. 2 executive, also sued for gender discrimination and retaliation. The events inspired employees to stage a digital walkout in protest. Shareholder lawsuits followed.

Last year, Christine Martinez, an entrepreneur and friend of Mr. Silbermann, also sued the company for breach of implied contract and idea theft, claiming she had helped create Pinterest alongside him and Paul Sciarra, another founder.

Ms. Brougher’s suit resulted in a $22.5 million settlement, which included a joint donation of $2.5 million to charities focused on women and people of color in the tech industry. Ms. Ozoma helped sponsor a new law in California which broadened protections for employees who speak out about discrimination and harassment at work.

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