Pinterest, the tech company best known as an inspiration and discovery platform, will purchase The Yes, an AI-powered shopping platform that enables users to shop a personalised feed based on the user’s input on brand, style and size. Retailer veteran Julie Bornstein founded The Yes in 2018 after stints at Stitch Fix, Sephora and Nordstrom. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.
Bornstein will lead shopping and strategy across Pinterest and report to Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann. The Yes team will also join Pinterest after the deal closes. Eventually, Pinterest will shutter The Yes’ app.
“I’ve spent my career at the intersection of shopping, fashion and technology and have seen first-hand the valuable impact of building technology that enables brands to join a platform with ease while enabling customers to share their preferences,” Bornstein said in a press release. “Joining forces with Pinterest to broaden our reach utilizing such an inspirational platform is an exciting and ideal next step for our team and technology.”
The Yes raised $42 million in 2019 from NEA, True Ventures and Forerunner, valuing the company at $100 million. Just as Bornstein and her team began conversations around raising money for the company’s Series B this spring — the “worst time humanely possible” to fundraise — Pinterest approached them about a deal, she said. Bornstein said that the company began to “hit its stride” in the past year, growing 20 times and increasing its gross merchandise value and customer base along the way.
“Our business was so strong that I wasn’t worried about fundraising — I knew it would be hard and I knew valuations had changed, but I was fairly confident there was a lot of interest and a lot of outreach,” Bornstein told BoF. “In hindsight, this was a great outcome for The Yes.”
Pinterest surpassed $2 billion in revenue in 2021, marking 52 percent growth year-over-year to reach its first full year of profitability, according to the company’s earnings statement. At the same time, Pinterest global monthly active users decreased 6 percent year-over-year to 431 million.
Pinterest, once thought to be a sleeping giant among social media platforms helping brands connect with consumers, has struggled to distinguish itself from its competitors. The most popular social media platforms — Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok among them — have made inroads in being more creator-friendly, while also rolling out a suite of shopping tools to draw in brands and their advertising dollars. Pinterest, for its part, has attempted to do the same, though fashion brands still largely focus their advertising dollars elsewhere. In October 2021, rumours swirled that PayPal was exploring a Pinterest acquisition, only to issue a statement shortly after the news broke (and its stock price fell) that it was not in fact pursuing a deal.
Bornstein said that Pinterests’ interest in The Yes included its personalisation technology, but also features the company had been developing including checkout and brand integration technology, as well as more qualitative aspects including The Yes’ brand relationships and shopping expertise.
“One of the things that is hard about Pinterest today is just that it’s such an incredible inventory of images, but a lot of them are not shoppable,” Bornstein said. “With our brand partners and additional retail partnerships, we’re going to have just incredible shoppable inventory that people can also get inspiration from.”
In September 2020, Pinterest hired Aya Kanai, former editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, as head of content and partnerships. Kanai left the company in March 2022 to join Google Shopping as the head of editorial and creative.