Pinterest is an image sharing and social media service designed to enable saving and discovery of information (specifically 'ideas') on the internet using images, and on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos, in the form of pinboards. The site was created by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp, and had over 478 million global monthly active users as of March 2021. It is operated by Pinterest, Inc., based in San Francisco. The idea for Pinterest emerged from an earlier app created by Ben Silberman and Paul Sciarra called Tote which served as a virtual replacement for paper catalogues. Tote struggled as a business, significantly due to difficulties with mobile payments. At the time, mobile payment technology was not sophisticated enough to enable easy on-the-go transactions, inhibiting users from making many purchases via the app. Tote users were, however, amassing large collections of favorite items and sharing them with other users. The behavior struck a chord with Silberman, and he shifted the company to building Pinterest, which allowed users to create collections of a variety of items and share with each other. The development of Pinterest began in December 2009, and the site launched the prototype as a closed beta in March 2010. Nine months after the launch, the website had 10, 000 users. Silbermann said he wrote to the first 5, 000 users, offering his phone number and even meeting with some of them.