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Pinterest is interviewing bankers — a sign that the IPO is finally happening

Will the company go public before any looming recession?

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann.
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann
Drew Angerer / Getty

The tease appears to be over.

Pinterest, the search and discovery startup valued at $12 billion, interviewed some bankers last week hoping to underwrite its initial public offering later this year, according to people familiar with the matter. That’s a sign that the nearly 9-year-old startup is finally preparing to go public this year.

Pinterest is expected to decide on its lead bankers soon, although some people close to the company believe that Goldman Sachs has had the edge. Selecting bankers in January would put Pinterest on pace for an IPO as early as the second quarter of this year, perhaps once the company has a full quarter of 2019 financials to share with Wall Street.

Pinterest declined to comment, as did Goldman Sachs.

2019 was shaping up to be a banner year for tech IPOs, but the recent shakiness of the US stock market has put some plans and timelines in peril. People advising IPOs say startups are looking for ways to go public faster in advance of a looming, late-2019 recession. And that’s to say nothing of the government shutdown, which has thrown a wrench into the plans of startups eyeing early 2019 IPOs (since the SEC isn’t reviewing paperwork while it’s closed.)

Then there are all the issues specific to Pinterest, which claims 250 million monthly users. Does it have the growth potential that investors look for in consumer apps to beat the $12 billion private valuation that it achieved in mid-2017? Will the same stock market woes that have plagued other young advertising platforms like Snap strike Pinterest, too? There are some folks who think Pinterest could make for an attractive last-minute acquisition for the Amazons or Googles of the world.

But for now, it appears, Pinterest is all systems go on an IPO.

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