Late last week, news broke that Pinterest had raised an additional $186 million as part of a $553 Series G round of funding.

That brought the startup's total funding to $1.3 billion with an $11 billion valuation ó In other words, boatloads of money for the five-year-old company. 

Business Insider talked to Pinterest cofounder Evan Sharp not long before the company closed its latest funding. 

During our interview, he talked about why he thinks the company's vision is so powerful, and how it plans to grow and change in the coming year. 

Here are some highlights of what we learned:

Pinterest plans to spend the next year focusing on international growth and making its Pins more "actionable." As the site expands geographically, it also needs to become more regionally focused. People have stopped talking about Pinterest as a "social network" ó but that's a good thing. "Pinterest is not about sharing with your friends," Sharp says. "Itís about saving ideas for your future." Pinterest puts a lot of stock in hiring employees who aren't just really smart, but who are also really nice. "Those are the people who can 'knit' together and build great innovative products," Sharp says.  Pinterest needs to do a better job of explaining its various uses. "I donít think people realize the breadth of it and how itís useful it is for so many things," he says. "I just got a dog, and I never thought about using it to look up toys you get for the dog and walks to take the dog on, but thereís so much stuff about that on Pinterest!" Here's a transcript of the interview, lightly edited for clarity and length:

Business Insider: So, what have you personally used Pinterest for recently?

Evan Sharp: Iím going to Yellowstone National Park in a few weeks. I was there about a decade ago and so I was browsing things to do there. What I was really interested in are there things to do there, or interesting things at Yellowstone that I didnít know about.

Because I remember a lot of the stand-out stuff from my last trip, but I was wondering if there were things I didnít know about ó that 'are there secrets?' And Pinterest has helped me with that.

BI: Itís been about a year since Pinterest first launched Guided Search to help people narrow down their search results. Why is that function important to Pinterestís goals and how has it changed?

ES: We think of Pinterest as a visual bookmarking tool for saving and discovering creative ideas, and that discovery part is a really a core part of what we work on every day. When youíre searching for something on the web, youíre generally looking for something very specific. But on Pinterest, itís usually more general. Itís like, ĎI need a scarf, but I donít know what kind of scarf.í Or ĎI need to stain something, but I donít know anything about how to do that.í

The Guides are a way for us to give you the vocabulary. You may need help discovering and exploring things you didnít even know existed.

BI: Pinterest recently announced that there are a whopping 50 billion Pins in the system. Whatís the goal, growth-wise, there?

ES: I donít know if we have a number that is the goal. Numbers are easy to talk about externally so we use them, but itís not actually about the quantity. But for us, itís really about ĎDo we have all the most interesting stuff well-represented on Pinterest?í

If youíre a user who is looking for something, do we have an idea thatís relevant to you? Do we have enough stuff that we can help you discover something interesting? For us, itís less about thinking about how to make that number higher and more about, how do we take those 50 billion things and show you the right five or ten or twenty for what youíre doing. And thatís a really hard problem.

BI: What are some ways that youíre solving that problem?

ES: This year, weíre really interested in how we make Pinterest feel very regionally focused. Our biggest company focus this year is international growth. When youíre in Japan and youíre looking for something to cook for dinner, how do we make sure youíre seeing a Japanese recipe?

Another focus is how we take those 50 billion Pins ó or however many we have at the end of the year ó and make them more useful and more actionable? If you come across anything ó clothing, a place to travel ó how do we help you understand what youíre looking at ó how you can get that piece of clothing, how you can get to that place? And thatís more about the information and the metadata that we have about the pins themselves.

BI: You recently made it possible to download apps through Pinterest. How else will you make more actionable pins?

ES: When you see something on Pinterest, how well are we helping you understand what youíre looking at, and how easy is it for you to go do that thing in real life?

If you see an image and itís just an image, and thereís a bad link or no description, and you donít know what that image is, or who took it, or what itís a picture of, itís not a very satisfying or actionable experience.

Whereas, if you see a photo of an awesome bag and it says what it is and thereís a link to the store and you can get it and there are reviews ó all of that stuff would make the experience of discovering that bag on Pinterest way better for you. Just way easier. So thereís a whole suite of stuff that we could build. 

BI: About 80% of Pinterest's traffic now comes from mobile and youíve talked about how international expansion is a big priority right now. How do those two things go together?

ES: For us, the phone is the platform that we think about every day when we develop new features and products. We have experiences on other devices and other platforms, and weíll continue to do that, but the phone is really what most people think of when they think of the internet. Without that, weíd be in a much, much worse position when we think about Asia, South America, Europe and someday maybe Africa. Itís vital.

For example, weíre finally prioritizing Brazil this year. Itís one of the five countries weíre focused on. Weíre focused on the the UK, Germany, Japan, and Brazil, and Brazil is a very mobile dominant country. For us, itís kind of a test-bed of how we really try and grow without a desktop presence, which I think is a good exercise for us to go through as a company.

BI: People used to always talk about Pinterest as a Ďsocial network.í Now, you see it described as a Ďdiscovery tool.í Do you think the social element of Pinterest is as important as it used to be?

ES: One of the problems is that thereís not a good definition of what social means online. When people use that as a label, itís hard to agree or disagree. To me, a social service is a service that is primarily about sharing and communicating with your friends. So thatís Facebook, thatís messaging apps, that may or may not be Twitter depending on how you define friendÖ

Pinterest is not about sharing with your friends. Itís about saving ideas for your future.

I do think, obviously, you can get inspired about things you want to do by looking at what other people do. People are at the core of Pinterest, but itís just not about sharing. For me, a lot of the people who inspire me are people I know. Like, my friend Everett re-does scooters and motorcycles ó and thatís really inspiring I never thought about doing that before I saw his Pin Boards. And my friend Shaw is an architect in New York so I can keep a pulse on what heís doing, because heís way more cutting edge than I am.

But I donít think of those interactions as social interactions. Iím more interested in the fact that theyíre experts in a taste I admire then that theyíre people Iím friends with.

BI: Pinterest recently held an event called ďKnitconĒ where employees taught each other classes about things like song writing, photo editing, fixing a flat bike tire, and more. Why is that sort of thing important to Pinterestís culture.

ES: Our core company value is actually the word 'knit,' which is kind of a funny word. Thatís the word we use to describe different types of people learning to see each otherís point of view and work on a problem together. And thatís just how creative things get built right?

We want the different disciplines and functions to be learning each otherís languages. Engineering and design work very closely. I think that there are a lot of companies in the valley that call themselves an íengineering company,í or a Ďmarketing company,í ó theyíre very focused on a specific part of a business.

Weíre more interested in forming a business where there is no Alpha dog team within the company.

Thereís one more thingÖ We try to hire people who are nice. Which is kind of obvious in some ways, but thereís definitely a stereotype of a successful startup that itís often this aggressive, type A place. And thatís just not necessarily true.

You can have geniuses that are nice or geniuses that are really egotistical. But theyíre both geniuses. So, we really want to work with the geniuses that are nice to each other and have a common level of respect. Because those are the people who can knit together and build great innovative products.

BI: What do you wish people better understood about Pinterest?

ES: I donít think people realize the breadth of it and how useful it is for so many things. Even I donít sometimes.

I just got a dog, and I never thought about using it to look up toys you get for the dog and walks to take the dog on, but thereís so much stuff about that on Pinterest!

Pinterest really is a portal. Weíre an effective search engine for a lot of things in peopleís lives, and Iím not sure that weíre top-of-mind in that way yet. You wouldnít ask Pinterest how far it is from New York to San Francisco, but you would definitely ask it, ĎWhat should I do in San Francisco?í or ĎWhat kind of sofa do I want in my apartment,?í or ĎWhat kind of clothes do I want to wear?í These very subjective questions that have no right answer, that I think a visual, object-focused service can help you answer really well.

Where do you want the company to be in the next five years?

ES: We really want everyone in the world to be discovering and doing things in their life in a way that they donít today. Everyone in the world. So, thatís people outside the US, thatís demographics that arenít as interested in Pinterest todayÖ Thatís using Pinterest for all sorts of projects and ideas that people might not think of today.

A lot of people think of creativity as this artistic, elitist thing. ĎIím not creative!í is a really common phrase you hear adults say. Every kid is creative though, right?

Getting people into that creative mode, just an hour a day, can be really transformational. It can really give people confidence and make them feel like theyíre in control of the things in their life.

You can take the things that you have to do ó you know, like raising a kid, teaching a class ó and make them a little bit more creative, a little bit more interesting.

BI: How has Pinterest unleashed that creativity in you?

ES: I got back into photography really heavily about a year and a half ago, and I used Pinterest to figure out what I liked and what photographers I actually loved. That was a process of browsing through thousands and thousands of photographs and figuring out, over time, what the pattern was of what interested me. I found all these great photographers I had never heard of, just by using Pinterest to save the stuff that caught my eye over time.

And now I take crazy-amounts of photos. I probably took 15,000 photos last year. All of that is about me getting confident in what my taste is, and learning to feel confident in expressing it myself. So for me it was a tool that helped me find a voice, in a way, photographically.

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