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Pinterest faces lawsuit from Oakland woman who says she helped create it

By Chris Dolmetsch | Bloomberg

Pinterest Inc. is facing a lawsuit from a digital marketing strategist who claims she helped design the social media platform but not one of its founders, a California judge has heard.

Late Thursday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Seabolt denied the company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but he eliminated co-founder Paul Sciarra as a defendant because he left Pinterest ten years ago.

Christine Martinez sued the company in September, saying she contributed key ideas to the platform but was never paid by founders Ben Silbermann and Sciarra. According to her complaint, Martinez, an Oakland resident, was friends with Silbermann when he asked her to “recover a failed shopping app” that later became Pinterest.

She says she developed some of the main concepts of the platform, including features allowing users to create “poster boards” reflecting their cultural tastes and created a marketing plan to recruit bloggers to recruit users. Martinez claims she was so integral to the creation of the site that Silbermann and Sciarra incorporated her name into the platform’s source code.

Pinterest decided to dismiss the case in December, saying Martinez’s claims were too old and therefore time-barred. But Seabolt said Martinez “sufficiently alleges” that the parties agreed to deferred compensation and that his claims stem from the company’s 2019 IPO. The judge called the IPO an “event transformer” which would trigger the obligation to pay it, while dismissing the allegations of conversion and unjust enrichment.

Representatives for Pinterest and an attorney for Martinez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Post expires at 11:34pm on Monday July 4th, 2022