Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann Talks Innovation with Target Team

October 20, 2015 - Article reads in
Pinterest's Ben Silbermann (right) and Target's Casey Carl take part in the event

Sometimes the best ideas start with a spark from the outside. Yesterday, Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, joined Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer, to talk about how Pinterest works from the inside out and answer questions with more than 600 of our team members.

Ben was the first speaker for Outer Spaces, a series of innovation talks we’re kicking off at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters. After the success of this year’s Target Fall National Meeting speaker lineup, which included Dr. Amit Sood, Susan Cain, Mitch Albom and Simon Sinek, this new series will bring inspiring minds from other companies and organizations to speak to our team. We also livestreamed the event to Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco so their 600+ employees could get in on the fun.

So how has innovation fueled Ben’s story? He and business partners Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp launched Pinterest in 2010. And if you’re one of the 100 million+ pinners worldwide, you already know that Pinterest is part discovery network, part idea catalog. Today, Ben’s team is focusing their energy on simplifying the user experience and adding new innovations to make pins more useful and inspirational. “Pins are kind of like windows into the future,” Ben said. “They help users find new friends with common interests, and connect with brands to get ideas that they can use in their daily lives.” 

Target and Pinterest have been working together for several years, tapping into data and analytics and testing out new e-commerce functionality to make pins more useful. What have we done so far? With nearly 335,000 followers, Target’s Pinterest page currently features 63 boards filled with products and inspiration across our most popular categories—like fashion, food, home décor and things for baby. We feature a mix of Promoted Pins across several of Pinterest’s category feeds to help deliver content to users who are most likely to love it. We’re testing things like application programming interface (API) integration (connecting to Pinterest’s technology) with our iBeacons and within Awesome Shop—in both cases, highlighting our most-pinned products—to find new ways our guests might want to discover, shop and buy products. And we’re taking it off-platform, too, by experimenting with ways to inspire the guest in-store via Pinterest insights.

To inspire innovation, Ben and Casey agreed, it takes talented people to build the technology that can ultimately take an experience to the next level. “That’s why,” said Ben, “at Pinterest, we’re always on the lookout for people with all kinds of really diverse skill sets who can dream up and build the kinds of experiences we want.” That rings true for Target, too. As we transform our business with a new focus on omnichannel experiences, we’re continuing to invest in top talent, as well as technology, and watching for opportunities to cultivate innovation. (Interested in joining the Target team? Check out available roles on our Careers pages.)

Ben’s advice for making a big idea take off? You don’t need to be a developer, but you do have to think big and be persistent. “If you have an idea, be relentless and figure out how to get it done,” he said. “Set lots of little goals and knock them out one by one. And maybe you team up with someone else who shares your goals and dreams but has a completely different set of skills. When groups of people with diverse talents come together for a project, that’s when exciting things start to happen.”

There’s more Outer Spaces on the way! Check back later this week, when we welcome our next guest speaker, Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat.

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