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Meet Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, the subject of Fast Company’s October cover story.
For a guy running such a beautiful website, Ben Silbermann looks like hell: He has prominent bags under tired, watery eyes; his shoulders hang heavy; his shirt is wrinkled; and his dark hair is uncombed. When he speaks—with the open-vowel inflections of his Iowa upbringing—his voice is so slight that it often gets lost beneath the din of other conversations. When he moves, it is with the economy of a marathon runner trying to conserve every last bit of energy on the eve of a big race.
“I’m tired,” says the 30-year-old CEO of Pinterest, the social scrapbook that’s the hottest website on the planet, as he prepares to shovel down a bowl of noodles a few feet away from his desk. Silbermann leaves for the office at 7 a.m. most mornings and works nonstop until dinner. His only respite, if you can call it that, comes in the predawn hours when he takes his newborn son, Max, into his arms and fires up his laptop to check email. Just a few weeks before Max was born in early July, Silbermann declared a companywide lockdown, ordering his 35 employees to come early and stay late in order to build new iPad and Android applications. The goal: to stoke growth. He ordered commemorative T-shirts with the phrase summer of apps printed across the chest, and he cut off almost all contact with anyone outside the company, including potential business partners.