Yash Nelapati helped build Pinterest from scratch.
He joined the startup as its founding engineer way back in January 2010, before the site launched in beta that March.
He fondly remembers holing up in an apartment with cofounders Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, hustling away on idea initially described to him as a new way to let people collect stuff on the web.
As is the case with most startups, friends and family of the three young men comprised Pinterest’s initial userbase.
But, it didn’t take too long before the site started gaining some real traction.
Nelapati laughs when he tells Business Insider about what happened when Pinterest hit one of its first huge landmarks in 2011, finally seeing its millionth pin uploaded into the system.
“I expected us to have a feast or that we would do something really cool,” he recalls. “But Ben just bought five bagels and one breadstick, laid them on the table and said, ‘Hey, time to celebrate!'”
That was Pinterest’s style: Humble, hard-working, and charging on to the next milestone every time it hit one.
With that attitude, the site has since grown to more than 50 billion pins collected by more than 70 million monthly users. Nelapati, who still works there, is far from the only engineer now, and works alongside more than 200 others around the world. Pinterest
scored an $US11 billion valuation for its last Series G fundraise.
That modest celebration is just one of the many early-days memories Nelapati holds dear.
While still in that Palo Alto apartment, he, Silbermann, and Sharp would catch each other up on their progress every morning around 9:30 AM. Nelapati remembers one particularly brutal day when Silbermann came back from meetings in his efforts to raise money, feeling discouraged. To cheer up, the three decided to spend the afternoon playing tennis and drinking beer. Pinterest eventually merged the two traditions and still holds a Friday happy hour ever week where everyone meets up and gets invited to ask Silbermann questions.
There’s other traditions that still live on too. Whenever Nelapati used to deploy new code, Sharp would stand behind him blasting “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa and dancing around.
“Even today, whenever we ship something, the people who worked on it come and pin their project to this big board we have in the office, while Evan is playing Salt-n-Pepa,” he says.