Quora raises $85 million to expand internationally and develop its ads business. Bérénice Magistretti wrote this piece.
Founded in 2009, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has grown steadily over the years, unfazed by the enticing allure of startup stardom.
… I concede, this is true.
“There’s this media hype a lot of companies in Silicon Valley go for,” said D’Angelo. “I think it gets in the way of the mission and it’s not in our culture or values. We’re just really focused on making a good product.”
… with the proviso that Good Product does not mean “pleasant for its users”, but rather “effective at what D’Angelo wants to see happen”: (1) profits, (2) training bed for AI, (3) some notion of democratised knowledge, that I *still* don’t understand, even after reading Mills Baker’s answer to Why should designers work at Quora?.
And it seems users are responding, as the platform currently has 190 million monthly unique visitors, according to D’Angelo. The user base has nearly doubled since he last reported the metrics a year ago.
And remember: those are Googlers, not active Quora users. Which is where the advertising money is going to come from.
D’Angelo believes translating Quora helps democratize information online. “The English ecosystem on the internet is very strong, as there are various blogs and forums out there,” he said. “When you go into some of these other languages, however, there’s really not as much.”
… I like the untapped advertising market explanation better. And the “blogs and forums” quote has amused me when this was cited here two weeks ago, since that’s emphatically what Quora says it is not in English.
When asked about a Chinese version, D’Angelo answered: “It’s very hard for U.S. internet companies to make it in China.”
Zhihu (Q&A website): a Quora knockoff that beat Quora to the Chinese market.
Competition-wise, Quora is often compared to Wikipedia, even by our account. But D’Angelo doesn’t view the online encyclopedia as a direct competitor. “We’re trying to be a primary source of information, and they’re a secondary source,” he said. “And Quora is more about people’s opinions and analysis rather than factual information.”
There’s a lot of Quora users I’d love to wave that quote under. Including, I suspect, the 2010 version of D’Angelo.
Q for quality
Last year, D’Angelo answered a question about Quora’s user base, explaining that the company doesn’t focus much on these numbers because it usually optimizes for quality, which comes with a tradeoff against volume.
Rather than burn cash and scale too quickly to show off inflated metrics, the company says it has been cautious when deploying new products.
And the quality of the content shows.
In addition to implementing stricter rules to ban bad actors from the platform,
… Jack Fraser, how have those stricter rules been working out for Mike Cavedon? 😐
And why does Magistretti assume that copy pasting a press release on anonymity controls counts as journalism?
Quora has put in place a series of carefully curated editorial formats, which include “Writing Sessions.” World leaders such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former U.S. President Barack Obama, and more recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have all been hosts and answered questions.
That is a highlight feature of Quora? Really?
I’ll admit to disappointment. But of course, the casual random surfing Google really is impressed by that kind of thing.
Investors in the Valley apparently believe Quora is a good bet and seem to trust D’Angelo’s steady leadership. Backers include Benchmark Capital, Peter Thiel, and Y Combinator (Quora is a YC alumnus from 2014). The company has raised a total of approximately $235 million to date.
I hate it when David S. Rose is right.
The fresh money will be used to expand the platform internationally, grow the business side,
Well, that had to happen, and it *is* a good thing.
and make new hires, especially machine learning engineers, to help personalize the content users see.
… Shit. More bots.
Today’s funding announcement begs the question of when Quora will file for an initial public offering (IPO). “Our goal is to be a long-term, independent company,” said D’Angelo. “We expect that we will go public at some point.”
Not surprised Magistretti misuses “beg the question”. She was impressed by Clinton’s interns hosting a writing session. 🙂
One indication of a gradual shift into exit mode is the implementation of a self-service advertising model on Quora. “I think ads is a very good way to be a sustainable business and become cashflow positive,” said D’Angelo. “And it’s very compatible with our mission to provide a free service to everyone in the world.”
Yup. Ads are going to be the way of the future. They’ve just gotten a smidgeon more obtrusive on the mobile version; there’s going to be a lot more of that. Emmanuel-Francis Nwaolisa Ogomegbunam, your theory on why there is so much blank space in the Quora margins is about to be tested.
Quora’s recent hires also suggest a future IPO. Shortly after its head of business and community, Marc Bodnick, left last year, the company went on a hiring spree.
… An interesting juxtaposition by Magistretti…
In the past six months, Quora has recruited a group of powerhouse women, including Kelly Battles — who is on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation — as Quora’s first chief financial officer (CFO), and tapped Karen Kramer to be the company’s first general counsel. Other hires include Helen Min, Quora’s first head of marketing (who joined from Dropbox), and Tami Rosen, who will be joining from Apple in May as vice president of people, responsible for HR and recruiting.
Hey! We can add these to that question about what Quora’s Org Chart looks like!
Oh wait. Quora already locked it.
And they didn’t even do so on the advice of counsel.