Ben Silbermann gives up his job as CEO of Pinterest.
He helped the company grow into a place where 431 million people, mostly women, save and share ideas for shopping, hobbies, and recipes.
Ben Silbermann, one of the founders and CEOs of Pinterest, stepped down from the top job on Tuesday. He had been in charge of the digital pinboard service for more than a decade and had taken it public during that time.
Pinterest did not say why the change was made. The 39-year-old Mr. Silbermann will become executive chairman. Bill Ready, who has run parts of PayPal and Google, has been named the new CEO of Pinterest.
Mr. Silbermann helped start Pinterest in 2010 and watched it grow into a place where 431 million people, mostly women, save and share ideas for shopping, hobbies, and recipes. Last year, the business made $316 million in profit on $2.6 billion in sales.
Mr. Silbermann said through a spokeswoman that he decided to step down as CEO after looking at Pinterest’s goals at the end of last year. The company wants to make it easier for people to do things, like shopping, based on the things they save on Pinterest. Mr. Silbermann said that Mr. Ready, who has worked in the payments and e-commerce business for 20 years, has “skill sets that would complement mine in helping us reach this goal.”
In 2019, he took Pinterest public, joining a rush of so-called unicorn start-ups that had waited as long as they could to go public and had been valued at sky-high amounts by private investors.
Pinterest shares hit their highest price of $85 in February 2021. On Tuesday, they closed at $19.70, giving the company a value of $13 billion, which is just a little bit more than it was worth before it went public. The news that Mr. Silbermann was stepping down as CEO made its shares go up by 4% after the market closed.
Pinterest was known as a “nice” company that didn’t follow Silicon Valley’s start-up playbook of macho, swaggering hype. This was partly because most of its users were women and Mr. Silbermann was known to avoid the press. But in the past few years, the company has come under fire because employees have talked about racism and sexism at work.
Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two people who used to work at Pinterest but left in 2020, tweeted about racist and sexist comments, pay differences, and retaliation they had faced at the company. Francoise Brougher, who was Pinterest’s number two executive, also sued for discrimination against women and retaliation. Because of what happened, the workers staged a digital walkout to show their anger. Shareholders then filed lawsuits.
Christine Martinez, an entrepreneur and friend of Mr. Silbermann, sued the company for breach of implied contract and idea theft last year. She said she had helped create Pinterest with Mr. Silbermann and another founder, Paul Sciarra.
The lawsuit filed by Ms. Brougher led to a settlement of $22.5 million, which included a donation of $2.5 million to charities that help women and people of color in the tech industry. Ms. Ozoma was one of the people who pushed for a new law in California that gives workers more protections when they talk about discrimination and harassment at work.