Pinterest CEO Talks About Affiliate Links, New Profiles, iPad App

In a rare public appearance at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann gave attendees a preview of upcoming features and addressed some of the copyright concerns surrounding the image-sharing site. Fast Company had the details:

Sometime soon, Pinterest will expand the number of things users can pin, including videos from Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix. “Driving traffic out is really fundamental for us,” he said. “The mission of Pinterest is not to keep people on the site forever. It’s to get people out and to find those objects.”

To accomplish this, Pinterest will be moving to new platforms, notably the iPad. The team is also working on an API for other companies to build apps. He did not say when these features would launch.

New user profiles are also in the works, and Silbermann said they will be “more beautiful — a snapshot of who you are.” People will be able to see who else has pinned an image they like and discover other profiles they might like to follow.

Pinterest has grown rapidly since its launch in 2009. According to Nielsen, the site attracted 16.1 million unique visitors in January 2012; and comScore’s latest numbers show that there are 11.7 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S.

But the company’s revenue stream, an affiliate links program, has been secondary to the goal of enhancing the experience for the users, said Silbermann. The founder wanted to test whether Pinterest users were moving beyond the platform to discover new things. “We put in an affiliate tracking system to try to understand that behavior,” he said.

Controversy ensued when it was believed that users could be held liable if the revenue generated by the affiliate links came from copyrighted materials. While there is an opt-out code for publishers to use, added PC Mag,”We also know that copyright is a complicated and nuanced issue, ” Silbermann explained, “and we have knowledgeable people who are providing lots of guidance.” The links have since been taken down.