Pinsanity Praying at the Altar of eMail

Seriously, you had to see that title coming, right?  After Insta-insanity a few weeks ago it was hard to ignore this one.  Oh we tried; afterall, this happened last week, but reflecting yesterday two things emerged: 1) unlike Instagram, there might actually be a business model lurking (despite the revene being MIA); and 2) there is a point to be made about what Pinterest must do to keep its community engaged (and growing.)  So, the reason we bother to mention the Pinsanity deal today is that we think this is will be a great example of how to deal with engagement messaging challenges that we mentioned last week.

First, Monte Carlo statistical modeling method to produce a rather revealing model of Pinterest revenue likelihood.  Bottom line, while it is micro-incrementally better than the Instagram revenue prospects the image sharing site valuation suffers the same sanity issues.  Funny too, because just when we were convinced VCs act more like liberal commercial bankers than high risk speculative investors, here comes the Pinterest deal.  Well maybe not; the investor who pulled this off is actually an Asian digital commerce giant.  But then it was the boyz of A16Z Ventures, whom we have deep respect for were the starter fluid for this latest frenzy.  Actually, they may get the last laugh.

While on the one hand we feel an urge to continue our rant against the possibility of "Bubble 2.0," at the same time, we actually see potential in Pinterest -- perhaps the same potential seen through the lens of A16Z.  You see, Pinterest with its viaul sharing model stands to be an interesting bellwether for Brands.

The key, which circuitously brings to our point today, is their retention strategy.  And we think the principal element in that will be how they communicate with users.  Once again, we're talking about messaging; that is, SMART messaging (vs. DUMB).  And they seem to already be jumping on that theory.  Pinterest has begun sending weekly eMail in effort to keep users engaged between pinning sessions.  The newsletter features popular boards like last week's George Takei's "Cats and Dogs."  They're also offering "Boards You Might Like" from user's friends.  Good thing, because that's more SMART-like messaging.

And to our point in a previous post, sending messages and trying to catalyze conversation with items that are succinct, meaningful, actionable, relevant, and timely is essential.  But here is the real point:  the messaging vehicle remains eMail.  We'll talk about this another time, but it is important to bear in mind that for the social app frenzy, eMail remains the hub of Internet experience -- that is, assuming you believe that there is more to digital life than inside Facebook.

Incidentally, lest you summarily dismiss Pinterst's use of eMail as their only recourse, Twitter just ventured into weekly eMail updates as well, giving weight to the theory that API story aside, they are effectively a media entity.  Although we're certain the ways and means of digital messaging will continue to evolve (i.e., SMS as the "no-brainer"), with the improvement of Smartphone rich messaging experiences (i.e., eMail in a reduced and optimized UX/UI footprint) it would appear eMail remains one of the Altars of the Internet experience.

So, although a bit "pinsane" the valuation may seem; given the potential of Pinterest from a branding bellwether view point, there may ultimately be there there.  One of the keys will be retention marketing.  SMART messaging will be the driver, and eMail looks to continue to be the vehicle.


Gregory Miller, CTO

Greg has been in the tech sector as a software architect and engineer, product manager, marketing and biz dev exec., and even IP and privacy lawyer for 3 decades. He is currently on the Board of a non-profit tech foundation reinventing America's election technology, is a venture adviser in the Silicon Valley, and serves as the CTO for C[IQ] Strategies, Inc.