Punchfork Acquired by Pinterest

by Adam on January 5, 2013

By now, I’m sure many have heard this news, but it bears repeating because it has some significant implications for Pinterest’s place in the market and also underscores the future of M&A activity in food and how that may progress this year.

http://mashable.com/2013/01/03/pinterest-acquires-punchfork/

Unfortunately, there’s no real sense of what the acquisition price was for the deal, but since it hasn’t been announced, and looking at Punchfork’s audience, I’d imagine it’s somewhere in the $10-20MM range, which is not bad for a lean operation like PF, and one that’s only been around for two years.

For those that haven’t used it, Punchfork was a streamlined recipe aggregation and curation visual search tool. It included feeds from top bloggers for their content, displaying each new post in a grid-like photo structure on the site. It offered a very simple, yet robust way to search and discover new recipes. If you strip away the curation and the feeds from bloggers, the visual search model is very similar to Pinterest, so there’s obvious complements there.

What’s perhaps most mystifying is that Pinterest is shutting down Punchfork, which seems to be a beloved recipe curation website. So was the deal solely an acquihire to get founder Jeff Miller onboard at Pinterest? Was it a way to take out competition for Pinterest’s growth plans in food (which is an ever-growing category on the site)? I’m not sure, perhaps it’s a mix of both, but I do wonder whether users of Punchfork will migrate over to Pinterest (although many likely already use the site) or where they’ll go.

On the macro level, I worry that the trend in M&A activity in the food space (among others) is going to be that smaller companies get bought out by larger players, only to be shut down and the talent acquired. On a digital level, it’s a waste of innovation capital to use acquisitions as a way to stifle competition and in general I would imagine it is disconcerting to loyal users who depend on these services.

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