Will There Be a Pinterest IPO in 2015?

pinterest ipoThe Pinterest IPO is one of the most talked-about tech deals of 2015 - despite no official confirmation the Pinterest IPO date will happen this year.

Pinterest is a scrapbooking site allowing users to manage topical or themed "pins" through collections called "pinboards." The site mostly emphasizes fashion, cooking, and child-related activities. According to comScore, about 68.2% of Pinterest's 1.36 million daily users are women.

It could become the last social media company to go public behind Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) and Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR). Both have been successful on the stock market, respectively gaining 107.4% and 45.7% since their IPOs.

But Pinterest has made no plans to go public yet. In fact, CEO Ben Silbermann has repeatedly mentioned how the company isn't concerned about rushing into it.

"We haven't been focused on it right now, because I think it's pretty early for us," Silbermann told The Wall Street Journal last year. "And I wouldn't say it's the end goal for the company."

But there are signs that a Pinterest IPO date could be here sooner than originally planned...

Pinterest Is Drowning in Funding

pinterest ipo chartThe Pinterest IPO valuation has been growing a rapid pace.

Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion in 2012. The Pinterest valuation had jumped to $2.5 billion by May 2013. By April 2014, the company hit around $4 billion.

Now, one year later, it commands a market valuation of $11 billion. That's 31% more than Spotify's valuation and nearly twice as much as Square's valuation. Pinterest is one of the few tech startups to hit a $1 billion valuation in less than five years.

The strong valuation growth is attributed to its equally strong funding growth. Pinterest has completed seven rounds of funding since its $500,000 angel investment in 2010.

According to CrunchBase, a startup database run by IT news site TechCrunch, the company raised $10 million in Series A funding in 2011. Pinterest raised $100 million only one year after that in its Series C round. Pinterest completed its Series G funding in March, raising $367 million and bringing its total funding to $1.1 billion. Pinterest's funding has seen an average growth rate of 104.2% each round.

Other startups with similar valuations aren't even close to that level of funding growth.

In its first five rounds, Pinterest raised $562 million. That's 3.9% more than Flipkart over the same funding period. Pinterest's $562 million beats Spotify's total funding so far, which is $534.8 million.

Despite more than enough funding raised, there's this one big reason why the Pinterest IPO is taking its time...

The Pinterest IPO Has a Valuation Bubble

Pinterest is just one of many private tech startups dealing with a bubble-worthy valuation. That means many of them command valuations they can never realistically live up to.

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"I definitely think there's a valuation inflation going on in the market," noted Hany Nada, founder of venture capital firm GGV Capital, on CNBC's "Squawk Alley." "The average valuation is probably two times higher than it should be."

The best example of an overvalued "unicorn" - Silicon Valley's term for startups worth at least $1 billion - is Uber.

As of April, the private taxi app is the second-highest-valued private tech firm behind Chinese smartphone distributer Xiaomi. It is valued at $41 billion and has received $2.8 billion over 10 rounds of funding.

But $41 billion is an absurd amount of money when you consider the company's problems. The service is banned in many countries and has received criticism regarding user privacy and safety issues.

Despite no controversy, Pinterest is even more at risk due to its small revenue stream. The company went five years without a revenue or monetization strategy. It just started making advertising money last year with the "Promoted Pins" program, which lets users boost the reach of their pins.

"The nose-bleed valuations have put startups like Snapchat, Pinterest, and Airbnb in a pickle," said Sam Hamadeh, founder of research firm Privco, to MarketWatch. "[They] must continue to put off their IPOs, while they try to 'grow into the valuation' and pray they can IPO in the near future at a nice return to investors."

The Bottom Line: There's no shortage of buzz surrounding the Pinterest IPO. As one of the highest-valued startups in Silicon Valley, VCs are pouring money into the company in hopes that it will go public soon. But it doesn't plan on prematurely rushing to market. At an $11 billion valuation, Pinterest has enough money to last while it builds stronger revenue streams.

What do you think about the Pinterest IPO? Let's discuss it on Twitter: @AlexMcGuire92

More on Tech IPOs: The tech bull market will continue to run. That is, as long as fresh cash keeps feeding it. Here's a look at the next big tech names that could hit the market in 2015, and how you can profit...

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