Home Businesses Pinterest Accused of Not Paying Female ‘Co-Creator’

Pinterest Accused of Not Paying Female ‘Co-Creator’

SAN FRANCISCO — When Pinterest went public in 2019, Christine Martinez’s friends sent congratulations. She had worked closely with the founders of the digital pinboard in its earliest days and her friends thought she would get rich alongside them.

But as Pinterest’s stock price rose, turning its founders into billionaires, Ms. Martinez said she realized she would not be compensated or credited for her contributions.

On Monday, she sued.

In a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Ms. Martinez accused Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra, two of Pinterest’s three co-founders, of breach of implied contract, idea theft, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices. Ms. Martinez had created Pinterest alongside Mr. Silbermann and Mr. Sciarra, the lawsuit said, contributing ideas that were “core organizing concepts,” such as organizing images on boards and enabling e-commerce.

Ms. Martinez, 40, was never formally employed by Pinterest nor did she ask for a contract. She was not given stock, though she said Pinterest’s founders verbally agreed to compensate her many times.

Ms. Martinez argued that she and the founders had an implied contract, based on their discussions. Pinterest even named a section of its source code after her, according to the complaint. And she was such close friends with the co-founders that she brought them both home for Christmas and was a bridesmaid in Mr. Silbermann’s wedding.

“I always expected that when they could compensate me, they would,” she said, adding that she had been naïve. “There was never a doubt in my mind.”

Pinterest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit renews questions about whether Pinterest, which caters primarily to female users, is hostile to women and minorities in its workplace.

Last summer, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two former Pinterest employees, tweeted about the pay disparities, retaliation and sexist, racist comments they had experienced at the company. Shortly after, Francoise Brougher, Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, sued the company for gender discrimination and retaliation.

In response, Pinterest employees staged a virtual walkout last August, demanding the company increase the number of women and minorities in its top ranks and provide more transparency around promotion levels, retention and pay.

In December, the company agreed to a $22.5 million settlement with Ms. Brougher, including a $2.5 million donation toward charities for women and underrepresented minorities in tech. Pinterest shareholders then sued the company and its board over its workplace culture.

Ms. Ozoma has helped sponsor the Silenced No More Act in California, which will broaden protection of employees who speak out about discrimination or harassment at work. It was recently passed by the state legislature.

Ms. Martinez said she was not surprised to see the headlines about Pinterest’s culture and that she had been frustrated by the disconnect between the company’s male founders and its female users.

“I’ve spent a lot of years being really confused about how it is that people believe that these three men created a product like this for women — that they understood women well enough,” she said.

Starting in 2008, the year before Pinterest was founded, Mr. Silbermann and Mr. Sciarra sought Ms. Martinez’s advice on a wide range of concepts from its name and features to its marketing strategy and product road map, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Martinez had studied interior design, created a lifestyle blog and founded LAMA Designs, an e-commerce start-up. Even though LAMA’s business model worked and was showing promise, venture capitalists didn’t take her seriously and she said she struggled to raise money.

Yet funding for Pinterest, based on little more than an idea and Mr. Silbermann’s and Mr. Sciarra’s credentials, came easier. Ms. Martinez said she was eager to help her friends.

“They had no marketing background or expertise in creating a product for women,” she said. “My role was always to educate them.”

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Martinez gave the co-founders the idea of organizing images on “boards,” a core feature of the site; created its call to action phrase, “Pin it”; and established its main categories including home décor, fashion and DIY. She also helped Mr. Silbermann persuade top design and lifestyle bloggers to use Pinterest and promote it. She brought him to conferences, gathered feedback from the community and honed the pitch to them, she said.

Ms. Martinez said she only realized she would not get compensated after Pinterest went public in 2019.

Soon after, she said, a death in the family caused her to reflect on her life. That emboldened her to speak up about Pinterest.

“I couldn’t take this to my grave,” she said.



Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

Now Is The Time To Build Your Career

Opportunities for career growth are significant in the tightest job markets. getty The job market is hot right...

5 Trends Retailers May Not See Coming Until It Is Too Late

Photo by: zz/KGC-254/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 3/6/21 General views of the Amazon Fresh Grocery Store on ... Ealing Broadway in London on...

Nabisco Workers End Weekslong Strike After Reaching New Contract

The photos also indicated that the contract includes a $5,000 bonus, with the company doubling its 401(k) matching contributions from 25 percent to 50...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Yankees and Gerrit Cole Get Roughed Up by Cleveland

The Yankees are a fourth-place team, like the Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles...

China to blame for iron ore price crash

Chinese steel production curbs, which has resulted in a sharp fall in iron ore prices, is Beijing’s way of “getting even” with Australia over...

Emmys 2021: What to Expect, How to Watch and the Latest

Sept. 19, 2021, 6:00 p.m. ETSept. 19, 2021, 6:00 p.m. ET Vanessa FriedmanChief fashion criticThe Emmys red carpet is about to start, but I...

Boxer Manny Pacquiao runs for President

One of the greatest boxers of all time Manny Pacquiao has announced he is running to become the president of Philippines.The 42 year old...