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When is Pinterest’s IPO date?

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Now that Facebook’s IPO is in the works, investors have started casting around for the next big tech IPO, and Pinterest is one of the names that keeps cropping up. What are the odds that we’ll see a Pinterest IPO? And if we do, when will we see it?

“Big-name social networks like Twitter and Pinterest are months, if not years, from needing to go public, most experts say, given the gobs of money venture capitalists have been throwing at them,” writes Peter Delevett of the Mercury News.

In Pinterest’s case, the company has already raised $30 million in venture capital. Rumors are they’re casting around for more, too, with some sites claiming VCs are valuing Pinterest north of $1 billion. That’s the sort of valuation where an IPO starts looking imminent. And it could help Pinterest raise the warchest it’ll need to bring in the right execs, law firms and bankers to transition from a start-up to a public company.

It’s in Pinterest’s best interests to go public sooner rather than later – especially as competitors like PinView (an app that lets Facebook users use the social network just like they use Pinterest) start nipping at their heels.

So, let’s speculate on when we might see a Pinterest IPO. The first and largest hurdle is the fact that Pinterest isn’t generating revenue. Potential investors would want to see the company roll out a platform for ads, or – at the very least – have future revenue plans in the works.

We can safely assume Pinterest is investigating revenue models. Until they launch one, expect them to “pull a Twitter” and delay going public for as long as possible. Once they’ve started generating income, the next steps on the road to an IPO should come quickly.

After revenue kicks in, they’ll need advisors and (potentially) a seasoned CFO. The company will also need lawyers, auditors and a investment bank. With those pieces in place, Pinterest will file a Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That form will give the public its first look at Pinterest’s finances, and it will need to be approved by the SEC, NASD and state securities organizations – a process that can take anywhere from 20 to 60 days.

After that, we’d likely see a two-week roadshow during which Pinterest will try to drum up investor interest in the company. A few days after the roadshow ends, shares in Pinterest stock would officially start trading.

To use Facebook as an example, the social network filed it’s Form S-1 on Feb. 1, 2012. Per the latest rumbling on the Web, the company will officially go public on May 17, 2012, three-and-a-half months later. Taking that into account, here’s a rough, shot-in-the-dark formula for when we might see a Pinterest IPO:

Development and rollout of a revenue model + Hiring a CFO and lining up finances/investment banks + Filing and approval of an S-1 + Investor roadshow = IPO date

Given that formula, my best guess is we’ll see a Pinterest IPO within a year of the introduction of a revenue model. That would give Pinterest at least three quarters of financial growth to show off in their S-1 filing.

Now, the question becomes, when will we see a revenue model on the site? Considering the fact that they’re growing faster than just about any other Web site in history, I suspect they’re predominantly focused on user and system support right now. Perhaps we’ll see revenue models roll out this fall, then an IPO just over a year later. That puts my tentative guess somewhere around January 2014. I just wish I could get my hands on shares before then…

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