Why Pinterest let its employees stop working for two days to teach each other their secret skills

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Knit Con took place at Pinterest’s new San Francisco HQ
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Pinterest

Earlier this week, more than 700 Pinterest employees came together from all around the world for a two-day celebration of each other’s talents.

Dubbed Knit Con, the internal conference included employee-led sessions on a wide range of topics – think sitcom writing, intersectional feminism, cheese plating, and workout hacks – as well as talks by luminaries like Momofuku founder David Chang, Apple’s Lisa Jackson, and Adam Steltzner, a NASA engineer who worked on the “Curiosity” Mars rover.

The image-centric discovery site, which has $1.3 billion in funding under its belt and was most recently valued at $11 billion, aims to be the world’s best “catalog of ideas.” In its second year, Knit Con gives the company a chance to put its mission to work in a very real way, cofounder Evan Sharp tells Business Insider.

“Think of it as an analog version of Pinterest,” he says.

He believes that for Pinterest to achieve its full potential, the way the company works should reflect how its product works for users.

Pinterest wanted to give people a chance to discover new hobbies or ideas while embodying one of the company’s core values: “Knitting.”

“‘Knitting’ is really when two ways of seeing meet and something new happens,” Sharp says. “That’s where the best ideas occur.”

Take a peek inside Knit Con:


Employees from completely different divisions who may not interact on a daily basis got to come together through classes on creative coding or making cereal treats. Here’s engineer Dan Frankowski leading a jazz appreciation class.

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Pinterest

Although throwing the event and stopping operations for two days was expensive, Sharp says that Knit Con is an important part of codifying Pinterest’s culture.

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Pinterest

Any employee could apply to lead a session and the schedule was kept completely under wraps until the conference commenced.

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There was one class on “edible gifts.”
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Pinterest

Homemade vanilla extract: Yum.

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Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro

Employees showed off jiu-jitsu poses …

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Pinterest

… And learned about pickling vegetables:

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Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro

Here’s CEO Ben Silbermann during his talk with David Chang:

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Pinterest

The first night of the conference, there was a talent show that included monologues and lip sync battles:

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Pinterest

There was also a “roast” portion of the night where execs read mean tweets:

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Pinterest

“Fulfilling our mission around the world in this ever-changing industry requires a culture that can both rapidly invent and rigorously build—a playground and a factory,” Sharp wrote in an email to employees about Knit Con. “Doing each of these well, together, requires true creativity.”

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Pinterest