Pinterest has just made its first acquisition – the two-and-a-half-year-old recipe discovery and sharing site Punchfork. Rather than operate it independently, Punchfork will continue to run shortly but then its site, API, and mobile apps will be shut down so its one-man team can focus on improving Pinterest. Punchfork basically looks like a Pinterest for cooking, and the exit could give hope to other vertical-specific sites that share Pinterest’s style.
Punchfork was founded in May 2010 with the mission of “Building tools to help people cook at home more often and more enjoyably” and “Bringing algorithms and analytics into the world of cooking and recipes.” Punchfork let people find top recipes from other cooking sites, search by ingredients in their kitchen for dishes they could make, and filter recipes by diet preferences like vegetarian. Those filtering options could help Pinterest users sort through the giant site’s enormous archive of posts.
Punchfork’s founder and CEO Jeff Miller was previously an angel investor, developer, and hedge fund trader. He’ll be joining the Pinterest engineering team. The price Pinterest paid for the startup is undisclosed. Punchfork powers Evernote’s food app, but won’t any longer. That leaves Evernote looking for a new API to rely on.
Since Pinterest rose to success and started gaining tens of millions of users, many “discovery” sites have popped up with its same grid-style masonry layout. Those with innovative features and decent traction, and that stayed lean without raising too much funding could become acquisition targets now that Pinterest is getting into M&A.
It’s a wise strategy for Pinterest, which wants to be the center of how people find inspiration for their daily lives. Right now its potential user base is fracturing across sites specifically for fashion, crafts, photography, food, pets, and other categories. If it can buy them for cheap with its $138 million in funding, acquiring the best of these standalone clones could help Pinterest continue to dominate the image board market.
Here’s the email Miller just sent to the Punchfork community:
Dear Punchfork Community, Today we are excited to share the news that Pinterest has acquired Punchfork! Since launching in January 2011, our mission at Punchfork has been to help home cooks discover new, high quality recipes and share them with family and friends. It is a mission driven by a belief in the ability of web and mobile platforms to inspire our lives offline–at home, in our communities, and for Punchfork, wherever meals are shared. To cooking aficionados, Pinterest needs no introduction. It stands as one of the fastest growing online services in history with millions of users, and millions of people use it to find recipes every day. Pinterest is often described as a platform for inspiration, and we feel this aligns perfectly with the goals of Punchfork. We couldn’t be more thrilled to join forces with the Pinterest team in San Francisco. Initially, support for Punchfork will continue, but we will soon be retiring the Punchfork site, API and mobile apps. We believe that a unified destination benefits our users in the long run, and the Punchfork team will focus on contributing to Pinterest as the premier platform for discovering and sharing new recipes and other interests on the web. Our sincerest thanks to our community members, friends, and everyone involved with Punchfork since its launch. See you on Pinterest! Jeff Miller