Pinterest makes its first clone acquisition

Faith Merino · January 3, 2013 · Short URL:

Is Pinterest heading down Groupon's path?

Some eight months after raising a hefty $100 million in funding, Pinterest has made its very first acquisition: Punchfork, which is essentially the Pinterest for food. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

A Pinterest spokesperson gave me the following statement on the acquisition:

“Punchfork helps people discover popular new recipes in a visual way and encourages them to share these recipes with their family and friends. People come to Pinterest to find inspiration for their everyday lives and we think Punchfork’s mission aligns with this well.”

Punchfork CEO Jeff Miller will be joining the Pinterest team. Miller wrote in a blog post that Punchfork will remain active for a short duration, and then will completely retire, including its API and mobile apps.

“We believe that a unified destination benefits our users in the long run, and the Punchfork team will focus on contributing to Pinterest as the premier platform for discovering and sharing new recipes and other interests on the web,” wrote Miller.

The two-year-old site aggregates recipes from some of the top recipe sites on the Web, including Bon Appetit, Simply Recipes, The Pioneer Woman, and more. It then uses social data like tweets and Facebook shares to determine which recipes are getting the most attention. The result is a real-time Pinterest-like news feed of the latest, most popular recipes on the Web.

Food porn is one of Pinterest’s biggest draws, so it’s not surprising that it would hone in on such a cool website. In a recent study from business analytics firm RJ Metrics, more than 10% of all pin boards on Pinterest are categorized under food, making it the fourth most popular category after Home, Arts & Crafts, and Style & Fashion.

Pinterest has raged in popularity over the last year, with one in five U.S. online women now active on the site. In 2012, it saw a user increase of 1,047% among its PC users, and an increase of 1,698% among its mobile app users. For those visiting the site from the mobile Web, usage skyrocketed 4,225%, compared to 85% for Facebook and 140% for Twitter. In February, Pinterest reached 10 million users, making it the fastest stand-alone site to do so in history. 

That might be why I’m getting flashbacks to the days of the Groupon craze… As Groupon surged in popularity, clones began mushrooming up all over the place—because the idea was simple, there was a low barrier to entry, and you could rake in big bucks from it. Plenty of larger companies who had nothing whatsoever to do with commerce—like the New York Times—began offering daily deals as a little side business to bring in extra revenue. And then Groupon raised a buttload of money and began buying up a bunch of clones.

Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but it looks like the same pattern is playing out with Pinterest. It’s easy, suddenly everyone is Pinterest (eBay, Facebook…), and now, after raising a buttload of money, Pinterest made its first clone acquisition.

All right, that’s enough cynicism. I still love Pinterest and all my food porn, so everything will be just fine. 


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