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Pinterest announced this week it has acquired Jelly Industries, maker of the question-and-answer app Jelly, co-founded by Twitter and Medium co-founder Biz Stone and Ben Finkel. The motivation of the acquisition is to empower Pinterest’s visual search and recommendation technology.
Jelly, who had an impressive line-up of investors including the likes of Biz’s Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey, Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman, Bijan Sabet, US Politician Al Gore and VC’s SV Angel, Greylock Partners and Spark Capital.
San Francisco-based Pinterest has long had a connection to Biz Stone, who was one of their earliest investors. He will now join the company along with Jelly’s chief technology officer, Ben Finkel. Jelly CEO Biz, will join Pinterest as a special advisor to Pinterest co-founder and chief product officer Evan Sharp. Also as part of the deal, Jelly CTO Ben will join Pinterest’s growth product team.
A Pinterest spokesperson commented:
“The Jelly team’s approach to an exploratory search powered by a mix of technology and human curation is closely aligned with our own vision,” Pinterest’s Sharp said in a statement. “The addition of Biz Stone, who’s one of the great product thinkers and creators of our time, will move us closer to our mission of building a product that helps people around the world discover and do what they love.”
Pinterest, based less than a mile away from Twitter clearly are determined to expand their search capabilities, a particular interest of Biz’s, who said in a blog post that the more he talked with Pinterest’s founders Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp “the more we realized we had the same interest in re-imagining search.”
“Pinterest—which was last valued at $11 billion, about the same as Twitter’s market capitalization—is trying to become a search engine for ideas where brides, home decorators, and amateur cooks can find and save images of things they like,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Lately it has been expanding its search capabilities. At a flashy product launch in its headquarters last month, it unveiled a new tool to use a photo to search for similar images of products like sneakers or clothing.”
There has been a mixed reaction to the acquisition with several San Francisco-based technology journalists using it as an opportunity to belittle Jelly and the acquisition, implying it as a failure, which I feel is not fair, but also completely inaccurate, because Jelly wasn’t shuttered, it was acquired before its fourth birthday.
I also can’t help but admire the transparency and class that Biz has displayed throughout his journey leading Jelly. Which you can read more about in my recent interview with Biz here
Biz and Ben are two of the most humble, genuine and authentic guys in tech so they deserve much more respect from the journalists who wouldn’t have a job, if it wasn’t for forward-thinking innovators like them Biz and Ben, taking chances and working hard to make their vision for the future a reality.
I believe that the negative nay-sayers would have eventually had to eat humble pie, when Biz and the Jelly team proved them wrong. Jelly has been getting better and better, the questions I got asked by it, were so accurate that it confirmed to me its potential and just how powerful it can become.
Why would a user tediously trawl through pages upon pages of irrelevant search results when they can get exactly what you need instantly, with absolute contextual relevancy, which unlike traditional search isn’t dictated by factors such as SEO capabilities, but instead the actual expert knowledge of users.
I see the acquisition as a huge win for both parties, so congratulations to Biz, Ben and team, I am sure that Pinterest have made a very smart and strategic move, gaining a very powerful product, its underlying tech and the icing on the cake clearly is bringing on board some of the world’s sharpest minds, who have a proven track record and are trying to create the future, now.
Good luck with the exciting next chapter guys, keep up the great work!
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