20210211_IBT_Pinterest_Annual Monthly active users of Pinterest at the end of the respective year Photo: Statista/IBT

While it doesn’t grab as many headlines as other social media companies, Pinterest has been doing remarkably well in recent years. So well in fact that it caught the eye of one of the industry’s heavyweights. According to the Financial Times, Microsoft was looking into an acquisition of the $50-billion company after its plans to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations had fallen through in the fall of 2020.

While no talks are currently ongoing, Microsoft's interest is a testament to Pinterest's success, which saw the company's market capitalization grow roughly eightfold since March 2020. As the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home (and online), Pinterest seized the moment, gaining more than 120 million active users in 2020 alone.

As the following chart shows, Pinterest has seen steady growth over the past few years, almost tripling its user base since 2016. With 98 million monthly active users in the United States and another 361 million users abroad, Pinterest is among the largest social networks in the world, even though the company doesn't see itself as one.

“Most consumer internet companies are either tools (search, ecommerce) or media (newsfeeds, video, social networks). Pinterest is not a pure media channel, nor is it a pure utility. It’s a media-rich utility that satisfies both emotional and functional needs”, the company wrote in its IPO filing in 2019, concluding that its platform is ultimately about discovery.