Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madgrigal writes that Pinterest could be a competitor with Google search:
Pinterest is mostly known as a place people go to find things to buy or make. The company likes to say that Pinterest is about planning your future, but it’s also just about seeing – visually — a bunch of interesting stuff on a theme, all in one place. So there are boards for wedding planning and child rearing and men’s linen suits, but also for kittens and model airplanes and mountains. Some boards are just a mood like “monumental” or “cute” or “adventurous.”
Despite this popularity, Pinterest has never attracted the same kind of press or adulation as the companies that grew up around the same time — businesses like Instagram, Uber or even Dropbox. Pinterest just isn’t seen as a hardcore technology company that will follow the path of Google and Facebook. To some people, it doesn’t feel like a world-shaping product. “It’s just a digital scrapbook,” people say.
But Internet companies are valuable in large part because of the kind of data that they possess. And Pinterest possesses some really, really interesting data. The first part of it is that they are a repository of things that people would like to have or do. They’re a database of intentions. And that has got to be valuable to marketers and advertisers.
But it goes deeper than that. What Pinterest has created — almost unintentionally — is a database of things in the world that matter to human beings. While Google crunches numbers to figure out what’s relevant, Pinterest’s human users define what is relevant for a given topic. And because of that, they could become a legitimate competitor to Google, the world’s most valuable Internet company.