SAN FRANCISCO – Pinterest has held talks to buy VSCO, a photo app that two knowledgeable people say has sparked social media madness among teenagers.
The discussions continue, said the people who refused to be identified because they were not allowed to speak publicly. A deal price could not be learned; Pinterest has a market cap of around $ 49 billion, while VSCO raised $ 90 million in funding and was most recently valued at $ 550 million. An acquisition cannot come about, people warned.
Representatives from Pinterest and VSCO (pronounced “vis-coe”) declined to comment on deal talks.
Julie Inouye, a spokeswoman for VSCO, said the company was focused on growing its business. “We always meet with different companies across the creative space and we don’t discuss rumors or speculations,” she said.
Pinterest and VSCO, which stands for Visual Supply Company, are part of a group of technology companies that have a strong focus on digital images and visual editing and are less reliant on social networking features. Pinterest, a digital bulletin board website released in 2019, allows users to discover and save images to inspire creative projects or plan important aspects of their lives, including home renovations, weddings, and meals.
VSCO, a 10 year old start-up, creates an app for editing and sharing pictures and videos. In 2019, it became popular with a Generation Z group known as the “VSCO Girls,” who were known for wearing Crocs and Hydro bottles. VSCO girls’ idea went viral, inspiring imitation, ridicule, memes, and Halloween costumes on social media.
For Pinterest, buying a once bustling start-up that was popular with younger viewers and has expertise in photo and video editing technologies could strengthen its core service, respondents said.
Since Pinterest went public, revenues have increased, although analysts had expected Pinterest to become profitable on a regular basis only in 2022. The company has also grown internationally.
During the pandemic, the company saw a surge in interest as people were locked down and more digital activity turned. Pinterest added 100 million monthly active users last year and now has a total of 450 million monthly active users.
The San Francisco company also faced social unrest last year. In December, she agreed to pay $ 22.5 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit and retaliation from her former chief operating officer, one of the largest publicly announced individual sex discrimination settlements. Two women employees of color who quit last year also publicly discussed their experiences with racist and sexist comments, wage inequalities and retaliation at the company.
VSCO was founded in 2011 and became known among younger users as a kind of anti-social network. The app has no likes, comments, or follower counts, so it seemed to put less pressure on users to build a fan base. VSCO also goes without advertising and instead makes money by charging people for additional features. Of the 100 million registered users, more than two million subscribers.
When VSCO girls became a cultural phenomenon in late 2019, investors’ interest in the start-up grew. But the fad has since cooled off. When the pandemic broke out, VSCO laid off 30 percent of its employees. In December, the company acquired Trash, a mobile video editing app, and planned to continue acquiring companies in 2021.