Ben Silbermann

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Pictorial kingpin Silbermann continues to catalogue people’s image-based interests through his e-corkboard Pinterest. Now valued at $5 billion after a $200 million round of financing in May, the company claims more than 30 billion ‘pins’ in more than 750 million boards, and it’s displaced other social sites like Facebook and YouTube to become the top social referrer to retail sites and a major driver to media properties. Last November, Silbermann poached former Demand Media and San Francisco Chronicle executive Joanne Bradford to head partnerships; the company has since lured brands like Gap, Kraft and General Mills into purchasing ads—aka “promoted pins”—that may presage eventual profitability. With three-fourths of its usage now taking place on mobile devices, in April Pinterest deployed “guided search,” a kind of image-centric inspiration tool encouraging users to linger and browse during search, rather than the quick-as-possible turnaround that Google Search dominates.