Today is my last day at Pinterest. It’s simultaneously bittersweet and terrifyingly exciting to be moving on to a new startup adventure, this time my own.
I still often think back to when we were just three rows of desks at the High Street office in Palo Alto, and marvel at how far the company has come since then. And it’s been such a joy and privilege to come in to the office every day to work with such a talented, creative, inspiring, and also warm, collaborative, and humble team that is so committed to doing good work in the world.
I first encountered Pinterest in 2010 with the passing curiosity of a startup junkie that loves trying any new site and examining the user flows. Upon discovering a typo on the site, I thought to write to the team, sending over an email titled “typo and other thoughts” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Within an hour a very nice person by the name of Ben Silbermann had replied to me, thanking me for the feedback and signing off with “I hope you keep using the site and keep your thoughts and suggestions coming!”
A year later, we were re-connected through the Palo Alto startup scene, summer BBQs and the like. Although I hadn’t been looking to leave Quora, Ben made me an offer to join Pinterest and I considered. I was immediately compelled by his thoughtfulness around the type of company he wanted to build: the sort of place that in 30 years, people would look back and be proud to have worked at. I was using the site more and intrigued by the product and business potential. And I was excited by the opportunity to help scale not only the engineering but also the engineering team. I crossed my fingers, hoping I wasn’t making a terrible mistake, and took the offer.
The early days were crazy chaotic, but I didn’t know to expect any different. I was only a year and a half into my software career, with just enough experience to be dangerous, but not so much to have lost my fearlessness. I dove right in. We were hurriedly migrating off a Django ORM setup that only had enough id space for a few more weeks of pin creation; the codebase was a tangle of dependencies via careless import *s and magic functions; and we sometimes took down the site on deploys without knowing it for lack of unit tests, deploy validation, or even uptime monitoring (#yolo!). I loved it.
It’s been four and a half years since I joined, and I can’t imagine a better opportunity than being on the Pinterest rocket ship in these intervening years. I’ve had the chance to work all up and down and across the stack and build infrastructure, products, frameworks, and tools; I’ve worked with wickedly talented people across every function, and made friends that I’ll keep for life. The culture that Ben was so deliberate to craft when the company was only eight people has scaled as we’ve grown to 100x the size. I can only hope to be able to recreate that kind of hyper-productive camaraderie I’ve experienced at Pinterest in my future pursuits. (Special shoutouts to the web team of the Denzel Black Hole Sun era, and to my Sterling team omies, thank you for coming to Rusty yoga with me. Love you g̶u̶y̶s̶ all.)
To say nothing of the sheer scale we’ve achieved, reaching over 100 million MAUs across so many platforms and countries, we’ve grown up as a company.
I’m still terribly excited about Pinterest. I’ve personally always been an avid Pinner (17k Pins and counting!) and will continue to be. I believe in the mission of bringing inspiration to people around the world, and the team’s ability to realize that mission.
And though I’ll stay involved as an advisor to the company, I also think it’s time for me to close this chapter of my life and begin a new one. After taking some time to travel and tramp through Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, I’m planning to move to NYC for a much-needed change of scene. I’ve been in the Bay Area my whole life and I can’t wait to experience the bustle and diversity of life and industry and people in the city that never sleeps. I think it’ll be the perfect place for me to be creative in new ways as I start my own company.
On that matter: I’ve never been attracted to the notion of starting a company for the sake of starting a company — I even once wrote a post venting some frustration over that Silicon Valley meme — but over the course of the last year I’ve found myself drawn to a particular problem space that has substantial social impact, particularly along gender lines, and is currently underserved by technology. With some gentle nudges from new friends I’ve made at this career crossroads, I’m excited to try to build a business around solutions for this problem space.