By Paula Burkes
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Danny Maloney, chief executive of Oklahoma City’s PinLeague, talks about how he built his thriving technology business by offering market analysis of users of Pinterest.com, who collect and organize things they love – from recipes and home décor to tools and automobiles.
Like many business-to-business startups, Oklahoma City-based PinLeague — which leverages the analytics of users of Pinterest.com to help retailers better market and run their businesses — was its own first customer.
Chief executive Danny Maloney and his partner, who started their company as bridesview.com from a coffee shop in New York in April 2011, wondered if they might ride the back of San Francisco-based Pinterest to help their retail customers reach brides-to-be through targeted marketing. Pinterest users collect and organize things they love, including “likes” and “pins” of gowns, photography, cakes, floral arrangements and more.
“When other companies started asking us if we could gather and dig through Pinterest’s public demographics and preferred products to appeal to their customers — new moms, restaurant patrons, fashion clothing buyers and others — a light bulb went off,” said Maloney, 29.
“We thought, ‘Why not develop a stronger technology anyone can use?’” he said. “Fifteen months later, bridesview underwent a pivot and became PinLeague.”
The company — which a year ago relocated to Oklahoma City, Maloney’s wife’s hometown — employs five full-time employees and five part-time. Customers, including Walmart, Target and 100 advertising agencies, represent 800 brands, Maloney said.
Powered by tiered monthly subscriptions, revenue is “more than doubling every quarter,” he said.
Maloney — who’s worked in Massachusetts, New York and California for Google, AOL and others — sat down with The Oklahoman on Wednesday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your childhood.
A: I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., which was home to both of my parents. But they — soon after my birth — moved to Coral Springs, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale, to raise me and my sister, who’s three years older. My father is an entrepreneur; he sells special construction materials like those with noise and vibration controls. My mother is an early childhood teacher; she’s done everything from Head Start to first grade. She stayed home with us when we were young, but finished her degree when I was in middle school. Growing up, I was a nerdy, brainy kid. I was valedictorian, president of the debate team, and in AP science and math classes. But I also played third base on the baseball team, some soccer and a little roller hockey.
Q: And college?
A: I found the program that was the best fit for me at Penn. It was a joint program of the Wharton School of Business and the college of engineering, custom designed so that technical types could understand business and vice versa. Outside of class, I joined a fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi), took martial arts lessons and worked as an R.A. (residence hall assistant), which, along with scholarships, paid for some of my college. But so that I’d graduate without debt, I ran a hobby/business in my free time. I’d buy merchandise, mostly collectibles, on various online shopping sites and resell them for higher prices on eBay.
Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: We met when we were 13 at Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program), a scholastic summer camp on the campus of Duke University in North Carolina. She went there two of the three summers I did, and we wound up at Penn together. We were study mates for micro economics our freshmen year and then — because we lived on opposite ends of the campus — didn’t see each other until the spring semester of our senior year. Another Duke TIP friend suggested we catch up over dinner and then he didn’t show, so it was just Megan and I. We subsequently hung out as friends — at her sorority formal and on senior class trips — and then, just weeks before graduation, decided we’d try dating. In the years since, we lived and worked near each other, and married — in the gardens on the Duke campus — nine months ago.
Q: What were your career highlights, pre-PinLeague?
A: I worked two years as a management consultant for Boston Consulting Group, first in Boston and then in New York, where Megan was working. Then, I applied and was hired by Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, where I worked some four years as a manager on their new products team. It was awesome. I got to be an entrepreneur within a company with a ton of resources. I headed their Street View project on Google Maps; worldwide business listing database; and lastly, an initiative to monetize YouTube after Google acquired it. Then I followed my immediate boss to AOL in New York, where I worked two years as general manager of video business.
Q: What led you to start your own company?
A: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak, and the desire to keep pushing and challenging myself. This was just the next logical challenge. I knew that once I married, I’d want to have kids, and if I didn’t do it (go out on my own) now, I’d never do it. The fun thing is: I’m not just helping to build a company in Oklahoma City, but something bigger — an ecosystem of startup technology companies. Our goal over the next five years is to build a market as developed as Austin’s. At the end of the day, we do that by building successful companies. PinLeague has had a lot of interest from Okies living in Texas, Washington, California, Florida and D.C. who want to move back to Oklahoma now that they see job opportunities, or sparks of life, in the technical sector.
Q: Tell us more about PinLeague. Do you expect to grow?
A: Right now, we’re focused on Pinterest, but we look toward a bigger trend of using data from social media users to power more personalized, conversational marketing. We expect to grow to 20 full-time employees by year-end, to 60 to 70 next year and, potentially, a thousand or more employees. Currently, we’re looking to hire more software and business developers. We have no interest in doing anything small.
Postion: PinLeague, chief executive and co-
Partner: New York-based Alex Topiler; they met at startup events in New York.
Birth date: July 2, 1983.
Family: Megan McGinnis, property management company owner and wife of nine months.
Residence: They’re renting a home on Lake Overholser, near the Oklahoma City/Bethany city limits.
Education: University of Pennsylvania, dual bachelor’s degrees in management and systems engineering.
Pastimes: Traveling with Megan, playing with their pets (a cat, two pugs and a lab-hound mix), and getting better acquainted with Oklahoma City.