Pinterest launches TwoTwenty, its own incubator for new projects – TechCrunch

Pinterest today announced a new initiative designed to help the company increase its pace of innovation. The company introduces an in-house experimental product team called TwoTwenty — named after the address of Pinterest’s first office. The team consists of engineers, designers, and other product experts who research, prototype, and test new features and ideas, and then identify those that work. Successful products are passed on to other teams within the company to scale them.

The team has been involved in some of Pinterest’s recent launches, the company notes. The first exploration came with the live streaming creator events, which later evolved to include features like the ability to rewatch live streams and support for shopping product recommendations. These became part of Pinterest’s recently announced product “Pinterest TV,” an in-app live shopping feature that aims to compete with competing services from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other dedicated live stream shopping platforms.

The Pinterest TV offering includes a variety of YouTuber “shows” where fans can interact and ask questions while participating in the live shopping event. And it offers creators a virtual studio, which Pinterest says was also an idea that grew out of TwoTwenty’s work.

The idea of ​​creating an in-house team now dedicated to new project ideas comes at a time when Pinterest is trying to reinvent itself for the modern era of online social, which in the midst of a maturing creator economy is focusing more on formats like video and live streaming.

Against this backdrop, the launch of Pinterest TV marked a significant shift away from Pinterest’s original idea of ​​an online image board where users can research and discover new ideas, which sometimes result in an online purchase. With video and live shopping, Pinterest aims to appeal to a younger demographic that grew up on social apps like Instagram and TikTok, where video and live content are at the heart of the experience. If it fails to successfully make this shift, it could be on its way out as the leading social platform. (In fact, exit talks may already be underway. There were recent reports that Pinterest and PayPal were discussing a deal, but PayPal said it’s not currently seeking an acquisition.)

Pinterest said its new incubation team will bring in ideas from an online submission portal called Idea Factory, as well as its company-wide makeathons (hackathon events). The team will then continue to experiment with the ideas and prototypes to see if anything catches on. At any one time there will be one or two projects underway — some of which will see the light of day and others will be withdrawn if not successful — more in the way a startup would experiment.

Initially, the team consists of Product Lead David Temple, who runs the Creator products; former engineer Ryan Probasco; Content Lead Meredith Arthur, formerly at CBS; Albert Pereta, who joined Pinterest through the Iceberg acquisition in 2014; Engineering Lead and one of Pinterest’s first iOS engineers, Steven Ramkumar; and other. A total of 15 people now work full time in the team and it is actively recruiting new members.

Other big tech companies are also formalizing their efforts to drive innovation through dedicated teams.

Facebook, for example, created its “NPE team” in 2019 to test new ideas and features and see how users would react. But over the years, none of these have evolved into their own new Facebook brand (now Meta) — they’ve instead influenced the development of other Facebook and Instagram features. Meanwhile, Google had allowed its more entrepreneurial employees to experiment in its in-house incubator, Area 120. In comparison, this group has launched a number of successful products that have spilled over into other areas of Google’s business, such as search, shopping, commerce, and cloud. This team has now been upgraded with the recent reorganization under new leadership and paired with other long-term innovations such as the Project Starline holographic video conferencing project.

“With TwoTwenty, we’re prioritizing a collaborative approach and accelerating ideas from employees across the organization,” Temple said in an announcement. “With the resources of an established brand, we are able to research and invest in new solutions to help people find inspiration to live the life they love,” he added.

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