Quora is a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users. Quora is best known as a source of knowledge. You can ask any question and get real answers from people with first hand experience, and you can also blog about what you know. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.
Quora was co-founded by two former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. D’Angelo resigned from his position at Facebook in January 2010 to create Quora.
In March 2010, Quora received funding in the amount of $11 million from Benchmark Capital, valuing the start-up at $86 million. In May 2012, Quora raised $50 million in Series B funds, valuing the company at over $400 million and bringing their total funding to $61 million.
As of January 2013, Quora had recorded over 300,000 topics and active writers get over 30,000 monthly views and 350,000 annual views. Quora’s blogging platform launched in January 2013 allows users can create blogs and posts.
Adam D’Angelo shared the focus, growth and the future of Quora and these startup lessons in various interviews. You could apply some of these tips to your own startup.
1. Why Quora: Q & A is one of those areas on the internet where there are a lot of sites, but no one had come along and built something that was really good yet. I think if you look, a lot of the knowledge is decentralized and we wanted to build a core place oriented to knowledge.
2. Mission: Quora’s mission is to make access to knowledge easy through a reputation-based Q&A site.
3. Goal: Our goal is to build Quora as a knowledge base that anyone can look at. We’re not just interested in people answering their friends’ one-off questions. We’re more interested in someone writing a really great answer that’s going to be read by thousands or tens of thousands of people over the next few years. Wikipedia is a good comparison to Quora, but there is room for more.
4. Focus: For now our focus is on growth and getting as many people sharing and attracting as many people to the platform. We don’t know what our model is going to be — it could be advertising, pay to access and/or consult-an-expert model. We are going to try many things. But it is not the focus now.
5. Focus: We want to make a product that markets itself and not because we are big in Silicon Valley,” he said. “So, we want to tone down anything that does not have to do with improving Quora itself.
6. The Future: Reputation is going to be a lot more important in the future especially as the internet gets bigger. I think there is too much focus on what is first, what is new. It has to be about what is actually worth reading that is going to become important.
7. Metric of success: The real use of Quora is determined by users and the content and the topics — those are the metrics we look at. It is really all about execution. We want to get to be 100 times bigger than we are today.
8. Monetization: Right now we’re just focused on making Quora really good and getting a lot of knowledge onto Quora. We’re really confident that if we can do that, we can find some way to fund the business in the long run.
9. Experience as founder and CEO: I do a lot more things these days — working with engineers, product, data science, recruitment, and a whole lot of other things. I have had to pick up a lot of different skills and I have had to get better at dealing with different kinds of people. I have had to learn finance, learn fundraising.
10. On change: We built Quora knowing that we’ll need to be able to change and improve quickly. We’ve set up all our technology that way, and we’ve optimized it to make engineers as productive as possible.
11. Hiring: One thing that is really important is hiring good people. If you can get the best people, that’s a big part of being successful.
12. Lesson: You have to get comfortable giving up control, and you find people who do things better than you do. Focus on the long term, and always do what’s right to grow the company and not make short-term decisions. And outlast everyone one.
13. Lesson: if you want to be an entrepreneur, a great way to learn is to be an early employee at someone else’s promising startup where you can gather experience, recognition and connections.
14. Lesson: It’s OK to do something that’s not scalable if it gets you to a position where you’ll have other strengths that will make up for this in the future.
Image courtesy Rick Bucich