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Pinterest, Ahead of I.P.O., Reveals Fast Growth and Losses

SAN FRANCISCO — Pinterest revealed that it was growing quickly but still losing money in an offering prospectus on Friday, as it officially joined the herd of highly valued start-ups stampeding to the public markets this year.

The filing by the company, which makes an app and a website that people can use to save images and links to digital “pin boards,” follows one by Lyft, a ride-hailing company that plans to sell its shares publicly as soon as next week. Uber, Slack and the delivery company Postmates are among the other young technology companies poised to go public in the coming months, creating new a wave of Silicon Valley millionaires and prompting excitement on Wall Street.

Many of these companies are growing fast, but few are profitable. Lyft said in its offering prospectus recently that it lost $911.3 million last year. Uber had previously disclosed that it, too, was hugely unprofitable.

Pinterest is also losing money, though not as much as some of its peers. In its offering prospectus, the company reported $756 million in revenue in 2018, which came from advertising, up 60 percent from a year earlier, while it lost $63 million, compared with a net loss of $138 million in 2017.

Pinterest also said in the filing that it had an average of 265 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The prospectus provides the first detailed look at Pinterest’s balance sheet. The company confidentially filed to go public in February, with Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Allen & Company underwriting the offering. It plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PINS.

Pinterest did not say in the filing how much money it hopes to raise in the offering and did not specify the potential prices of its shares. Private market investors, who have poured around $1.5 billion into the company, last valued it at $12 billion. The largest shareholders include Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments and Valiant Capital Management, according to the filing.

Pinterest was started by Ben Silbermann, the company’s chief executive; Evan Sharp; and Paul Sciarra. It grew out of Cold Brew Labs, a tech incubator founded by the three men in 2008.

Although most of highly valued Silicon Valley start-ups known as unicorns put rapid growth above all else, Mr. Silbermann has favored what he calls “quality growth.” He has tried to build Pinterest slowly and steadily, even as its growth started to soar in 2011 as people began pinning photos of their weddings, meals and homes on the site. “Pinners,” as users are known, essentially used Pinterest to create collagelike mood boards that expressed their aspirations.


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