Pinterest Is Rare ‘Unicorn’ Preparing an I.P.O. Without Hemorrhaging Cash

In a move that has become common among tech firms, Pinterest plans to divide its stock into two classes, giving its founders, top executives, employees and directors 20 votes per share. New investors will get one vote per share.

Because Pinterest makes money from online advertising, it is a competitor to Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Google, Twitter and Snap. In its prospectus, Pinterest listed those companies as competitors, as well as Allrecipes, a recipe website; Houzz, a home-improvement website; and Tastemade, a cooking content company.

Some rivals are not increasing their revenue as quickly as Pinterest, said Kathleen Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, a manager of exchange-traded funds for I.P.O.s.

“Like Snap, Pinterest is in the cross hairs of Facebook, and Facebook has always fought a nasty battle against Snap by copying everything it did,” she said, adding that anyone evaluating Pinterest’s stock should consider that competitive threat.

Pinterest was started in Silicon Valley by Ben Silbermann, the company’s chief executive; Evan Sharp; and Paul Sciarra. Mr. Silbermann, 36, previously worked at Google. Pinterest grew out of Cold Brew Labs, a tech incubator founded by the three men in 2008.

Although many unicorns made rapid growth their top priority, Mr. Silbermann favored what he calls “quality growth.” That meant he tried to build Pinterest slowly and steadily, even as its growth started to soar in 2011. “Pinners,” as users are known, essentially used Pinterest to create collagelike mood boards that expressed their aspirations.

Today, pinners pin on activities such as what they wear or what they are making for dinner, as well as ideas for remodeling a home or their wedding, or passions like bookmarking and other craft projects.