Photo: Lionel Bonaventure (Getty Images)
The online pinboard site Pinterest is reportedly in talks to scoop up VSCO, a photo-editing and sharing app that you may remember for inspiring a teen subculture back in 2019. Negotiations remain ongoing, two sources with knowledge of the matter told the New York Times, and there’s still no word on a possible price for the deal.
Neither Pinterest nor VSCO has directly confirmed talks of a potential acquisition. In a statement to the Times, VSCO spokesperson Julie Inouye said the company does not discuss rumors and is “always meeting with different companies across the creative space at any given time.”
However, the timing would make sense given Pinterest’s record fourth quarter last year. The company saw a surge in users and market value as covid-19 lockdowns gave scores of folks ample time stuck inside to scroll aimlessly through social media. Pinterest reportedly added 100 million new users in 2020 and now boasts nearly 460 million monthly active users worldwide. Per the Times, Pinterest has a market capitalization of about $49 billion, and experts project the company’s total revenues could grow by more than 48% in 2021.
At this point, it’s in Pinterest’s best interest to strike while the iron’s hot and focus on building up its public perception, where it’s arguably weakest. Even if a lot of people are on the platform, you’re more likely to come across Pinterest’s very vocal haters than users singing its praises. And while I haven’t been in high school in a hot minute, it wasn’t exactly the coolest place to be online back then, and its image doesn’t seem to have budged much since. Acquiring VSCO, a service that eschews traditional social media metrics such as “likes” and follower counts and is so popular among Generation Z that it spawned the eponymous “VSCO girl” meme, could inject some new life into the brand.
One thing working against Pinterest is its allegedly god-awful workplace track record. Amid the company’s expansive growth in recent years, employees have complained of some seriously toxic work environments, with several women filing lawsuits that they experienced racial discrimination. Pinterest’s former COO, Francoise Brougher, abruptly stepped down last year with little explanation, later claiming that she was pressured to leave for complaining about gender discrimination and salary inequities among Pinterest higher-ups.