Insiders Explain Why Pinterest's First CEO Suddenly Quit

Paul Sciarra pinterestPaul Sciarra cofounded Pinterest.

This is a lightly-edited excerpt from our feature, INSIDE PINTEREST: An Overnight Success Four Years In The Making.

Paul Sciarra, Pinterest’s founding CEO, left the company in April.

He left the company in cofounder Ben Silbermann’s hands. Silbermann had already been CEO for sometime.

This divorce, according to many sources, was amicable and mutual.

“Whatever Paul has agreed to do, he is doing it willingly,” says one source close to Pinterest investors. “He has lots of [shareholder] rights”

So why did it happen?

There seem to have been two reasons, according to sources close to investors and early employees.

One is that it has become clear to Pinterest investors, and to his credit, Sciarra, that Silbermann, who had been the company’s product visionary from the beginning, should also be its business leader going forward.

The second reason is harder to pin down.

But, without ever getting too specific, several sources indicated that Sciarra may have dealt with health issues shortly after Pinterest’s growth hit that step-function and its valuation $200 million.

We do not know what those personal issues were. Sources would not tell us. One cited a confidentiality agreement between the company and Sciarra.

Another source, however, says he witnessed Sciarra in a state of deep anxiety at a dinner event last fall.

“We were going around a circle and [everyone was] talking about their businesses, and someone talked about theirs and he started being like ‘that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and why would someone fund that business.’ Then he walked out.”

“It was just a weird moment. You would have said this is a person who is under a lot of anxiety, or really unhappy, or maybe really depressed – something like that.”

A source close to early Pinterest employees says that last fall, Sciarra took a month or six weeks off to “deal with personal issues.”

Briefed on this story, Sciarra did not respond to emails requesting comment.

More: INSIDE PINTEREST: An Overnight Success Four Years In The Making.

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