Quora and the $86 Million Question (and Answer)

TechCrunch recently announced round A financing secured by Quora,  a new site  founded primarily by ex-Facebook employees.    At a rumored $86 Million valuation,  the site has garnered significant attention from the start-up, tech and VC worlds.  I recently received an invitation to join and spent the past few days playing around on it in my spare time.  Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works from my perspective:

Quora is basically a question and answer site.  Users can ask questions, categorize questions into topics, comment on questions or answers and answer questions. Users can also follow things: people (other users), topics, or questions.  Users can also endorse other users on specific topics. Quora notifies users when activities occur on the items that the user is following  (i.e. “Jimmy Smith commented on an answer to Can Brands Sponsor Questions in Quora?”).

Nothing special so far.  And yet,  Quora is an incredibly addicting user experience.   The content that’s been developing in the site is top-quality:  experts and extremely curious users post questions, comments and answers on fascinating topics.  The user  experience is also extremely rewarding.  Asking questions drives activities (interactions) and the community is incredibly fast at interacting with your questions.    So, what’s the point?  Co-founders Adam D’Angelo and  Charlie Cheever had this to say regarding their goals for the site:

The way we think about this is there’s actually a lot of information that’s still in people’s heads that’s not on the internet. And when you think about it you would say that probably 90% of the information that people have is still in their heads, not on the internet.

WHen asked (In Quora) what the long-term business plan for the site was,  Adam answered (first response):

It’s hard to plan ahead too far on the internet because things change so quickly, but there’s a good chance that advertising will end up as some component of our business. There are a lot of other options, too, but our focus as a company is on building Quora as a product, and our costs are low enough now that we can afford to delay worrying about monetization until later

I’m impressed with the environment and I think the site has a lot to offer.  I will be interested to see what the site becomes when it opens up to a larger audience; there will certainly be some pretty heavy diluting of the content (right now the site is populated witha disproportionate amount of computer scientists, entrepreneurs, web developers and designers, etc) and this will be a challenge for the site.  I have a three more invites on to the site.  If anyone is interested, drop a comment with your email address and I’ll send you an invite.

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