Pinterest wants a lawsuit brought by a woman claiming to be an uncredited cofounder dismissed, saying she played no role in the company’s start.
Christine Martinez, who has long operated as a popular influencer on Pinterest, originally filed against Pinterest in September, alleging breach of implied contract, idea theft, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices. Martinez maintains she helped the company’s acknowledged founders Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra get Pinterest going in 2009 when the two were shifting focus from a shopping app to what became a social media company.
Pinterest went public in 2019, and its stock has prospered during the pandemic as more users browsed its app while at home. Silbermann remains the company’s CEO. Sciarra left soon after the company began. Both still hold lucrative stakes in the company worth more than $1 billion.
In a new legal filing in California Superior Court, Pinterest further presses for dismissal by arguing that Martinez waited too long to bring this up, her claims falling outside the statutes of limitation. Martinez hasn’t specified exactly how much she thinks she’s entitled to, though a stake in Pinterest similar to Silbermann’s and Sciarra’s would be worth over a billion dollars.
It’s unclear why Martinez waited more than a decade to press her claims, while former and current employees at Pinterest have said they have little to no recollection of her. She is not described in any previous news coverage of the company as a cofounder, and in her 2012 book about how to succeed on Pinterest, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pinterest Marketing, she describes herself only as an “early adopter.”
The battle between Martinez and Pinterest is complicated by several things. While she may or may not have been a cofounder, what’s clear is that she and Silbermann were once friends, reportedly close enough for Martinez to have appeared in Silbermann’s wedding party. Further, Pinterest was hit last year by complaints from several employees that it mistreated female staff and people of color. Last month, it pledged to spend $50 million on diversity initiatives within the company, ending litigation brought by Pinterest shareholders. In 2020, it agreed to pay $22.5 million to former chief operating officer Françoise Brougher, who had brought a case alleging racial and gender discrimination.