Pearltrees: 3 years and €8.5 million later, there’s finally talk of a business model

Feb 15, 2012
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In Europe, as many of you may already know, people tend to talk about business models much earlier in the game than they do in the US. In fact, it’s a widely-held belief that European investors don’t tend to invest in companies that aren’t generating cash (which many believe explains the French VCs’ love for e-commerce).

While US companies like Instagram, Pinterest, Quora and the likes are busy amassing millions upon millions of non-paying users prior to even talking about their business models (oh wait, Pinterest actually does make money?), European companies are more often than not approaching things from the opposite end. In fact, it is so engrained into European startups’ brains to talk about business from the get-go that Ohai’s Susan Wu shocked the Paris tech scene at Le Camping’s Fest event last year when she told a startup that their business model wasn’t important at their current stage and they could worry about it later.

Ah, yes, Pearltrees.

While many European entrepreneurs swear by Susan’s “the business model can wait” approach, the ones who actually practice it often get a little flack. Take Pearltress, for example. The Paris-based companyis a social curation and bookmarking  tool, allowing users to organize, store and share digital content in a visual “tree” format.

The startup just announced it’s 4th round of funding since it’s launch in 2009, having raised over €8.5 million to date. And now – just now – there is finally talk of a business model.

Talking numbers.

So, if the business model has been on hold for the last few years, the company must have naturally spent its time focusing on the product and user acquisition. Well, the first number that the company consistently puts forward is that 15 million “pearls” (more or less the company’s term for “bookmark,” almost in a Pinterest type of way) have been created to date. But what does 15 million “pearls” mean? In terms of users: 350,000 – with Americans taking the lead, comprising over 30%. And in terms of page views? 30 million per month.

Talking money.

But this time, if Pearltrees is raising money, it’s clearly for monetization. So far, there has been talk of a Freemium model – but little details have been provided on the specifics. I’ll be curious to see what the company has lined up – especially since I feel that the product  (at least conceptually) isn’t that different from Pinterest. The company is also said to be going after a more multi platform approach (releasing an iPhone app), will be opening up its API and will finally move away from Flash to HTML 5.

I’ve reached out to the company for more information on their upcoming business model and will keep you posted once they reply. In an interview with Journal Du Net, founder Patrice Lamothe said that he would be looking to grow the team by 50-60% and that the product – which right now only allows users to create interest graphs using links – could also include other types of media.

In the meantime, I’m glad to see that Pearltrees is continuing its development and finally talking business. 🙂