Pinterest’s First Acquisition Is a Recipe Site

Punchfork could bring tech for developer tools

This may be the year Pinterest gets acquired, but the social scrapbooking site kicked off 2013 with an acquisition of its own, its first in fact. Pinterest has acquired two-year-old recipe site Punchfork. Pinterest spokesperson Annie Ta declined to disclose the deal’s price but confirmed that Pinterest is acquiring Punchfork’s technology, which could offer a peek at how Pinterest is looking to expand its platform.

While Ta declined to share details of how Pinterest will work Punchfork’s technology into its product, it’s not hard to parse the possibilities. Beyond Punchfork’s Pinterest-esque home page resides a platform that Pinterest has yet to fully build but others—including Meredith's, Glam Media’s culinary social network Foodie and recipe-littered how-to app Snapguide—have begun to erect.

“We believe that a unified destination benefits our users in the long run, and the Punchfork team will focus on contributing to Pinterest as the premier platform for discovering and sharing new recipes and other interests on the web,” wrote Punchfork CEO Jeff Miller in a blog post, adding that Punchfork’s site, mobile apps and developer tools will eventually shut down.

As Miller points out in his post and Snapguide CEO Daniel Raffel acknowledged last month, Pinterest has long been used as a forum for people and brands to share and discover recipes. Problem is, to check out the full recipes users had to click out of Pinterest to an individual’s blog or brand’s site. Punchfork may only go one step more in listing ingredients, whereas Foodie and Snapguide go even further in featuring full recipes, but Punchfork’s talent and technology could work to build a more complete recipe platform at Pinterest.

Yet a more robust recipe offering may be small-minded when considering the larger potential Punchfork brings with it. Developers and marketers have been awaiting developer tools from Pinterest that would let them plug into the platform to do things like accurately measure Pinterest’s impact on sales and brand awareness, build apps that pull pins and pinboards as content or run ads targeted according to Pinterest data. Pinterest has kept quiet on any such plans, leading to speculation that any developer tools are way down the road if even on Pinterest’s roadmap. However, Punchfork has already built a developer tool, the Punchfork API, that lets developers pull recipes from Punchfork and display them on their sites or in their apps. That API can stream a real-time recipe feed or sift Punchfork’s content for specific categories like ingredient or publisher. It also lets bloggers or publishers stream their recipes directly into Punchfork and track how they perform; imagine that ported to Pinterest as a way for brands to auto-post products as pins and measure user response.

Pinterest may not want to open up its platform to the point that its content gets aggregated and accessed externally through apps like Flipboard, following the example set by Twitter over the summer, but it’ll likely want to find a way to help brands promote their Pinterest content on their own sites or apps and vice versa. Punchfork’s technology could help them realize that goal.