Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Quora Wants To Be Facebook Plus Wikipedia

Image representing Adam D'Angelo as depicted i...Image via CrunchBaseQuora has worked so well for the startup scene. I hope it goes far and wide in terms of topics and people, but there is a part of me that feels like maybe Quora should stay focused on the startup scene. On the other hand the startup scene will teach Quora lessons that can then be replicated into other topic areas. Only time will tell.
Wired: Does Quora Really Have All the Answers?: “I spend practically every free moment I have on Quora,” he says. “It’s the only thing I find intellectually stimulating on the Internet anymore.” ....... Quora’s founders were both star engineers at Facebook ....... it has raised more than $11 million in financing and could drum up four times that with a few phone calls ....... Quora may one day rank among the web’s 10 most valuable businesses ..... If Quora can fulfill its vision—getting experts to engage in its rollicking conversation and thus generate searchable and authoritative answers to thousands upon thousands of questions—then it may someday grab more pageviews than Wikipedia by filling in the gaps that no encyclopedia could ever address. ...... hard to think of any website that has ever inspired this level of personal ardor among entrepreneurs and investors, not just as admirers or enviers but as users. ...... Quora is “a micro-university” ...... nothing less than an extended family, a virtual salon, a potential revolution in knowledge. ....... It will need to replicate—in hundreds of communities and fields of expertise far from San Francisco Bay—the same kind of fervent engagement that it has sparked among Silicon Valley insiders. The site has already shown what it can accomplish inside a small biosphere of like-minded people with high IQs and outsize ambitions. That was the easy part. ......... The large expanse between the two approaches—the purely objective and the purely subjective—is the terrain that Quora hopes to occupy. ....... For years, blogs have occupied this territory, but their idiosyncratic and diaristic style has left their insights largely inhospitable to search. By creating an environment for members to post and answer questions, as well as rate the quality of others’ answers, Quora is building a searchable repository of information while it also builds a community. ....... “Ninety percent of the information people have is still in their heads and not on the web” ...... Adam D’Angelo, Facebook’s first CTO ...... The amount of knowledge that has been poured into the site is phenomenal. Users ask questions about raising capital, or about booting a cofounder who fails to pull his weight, and almost immediately a discussion sprouts up among seasoned engineers, investors, and CEOs. ...... How did Friendster blow it? Jonathan Abrams, the company’s founder, is among those who posted answers. Why did AOL make a particular decision? Here is former CEO Steve Case weighing in with his perspective. Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen has dropped in to answer questions; so, too, has Reed Hastings of Netflix and Rob Glaser, founder of RealNetworks. ....... Stray from the startup scene, though, and Quora can look disappointingly like a ghost town. ...... Quora wants to replicate the exhaustiveness of Wikipedia, but to do so it would need to achieve the ubiquity of Facebook. The odds against emulating either web titan are steep; the odds against both, enormous. ...... Over Chinese food near Facebook’s offices, the two discussed what they called “latent markets”—areas of online behavior in which consumer demand was clear but existing solutions were lacking. ....... D’Angelo ..... relationship with Zuckerberg dates back to high school ...... D’Angelo might have been the better programmer ....... The real young denizens of Facebook and other startups, Quora included, have little time to do much beyond work, sleep, and banter about one another’s companies. ...... Cheever’s existence, for instance, is basically confined to a tiny patch of Palo Alto; he usually works till 2 or 3 am before he trudges the five blocks home to his bed. ....... “I think the lesson of Quora,” he says, “is that successful people are just as vain and just as interested in praise for a good answer as anybody.” ...... In an age of 140 characters, so much of the conversation throughout the Internet now takes place in short, timely bursts. Quora, by contrast, has a way of encouraging answers that are thorough and in-depth. On other sites, people tend to value the funniest or snarkiest answers, but in Quora’s community, the coin of the realm is your honest intelligence and wisdom. ....... As a married 42-year-old with two kids, his expectations were low. “I’m not a social networking, Meetup, Twitter kind of guy,” he says. He logged in to Facebook maybe once a day. But with Quora it was immediately different. “Some days I check my Quora account before my email, I’m embarrassed to admit,” he says. ...... sees it as not only better than watching TV (“it’s more engaging, it’s more relaxing, and it’s obviously more rewarding”) but as a benefit to the professional community to which he belongs. “I’m constantly answering questions I wish someone answered for me 10 years ago” ....... the fullest road map ever drawn for starting a company in Silicon Valley ....... Rabois, the superangel, agrees. He hardly needs Quora’s help to raise money or attract talent: After stepping off the partner track at a big New York law firm, he has worked at PayPal, LinkedIn, and Slide, and he’s currently the number two at Square ....... Rabois logged in to Quora for the first time on New Year’s Day 2010 and immediately got hooked. He sees Quora as a rare oasis of intellectualism in a world dominated by the commercial and the superficial. ........ . “Fifty percent of the most talented people in the Valley are here,” Rabois remarks as he looks around the party. In only a year, he has made investments in two young startups he’d learned about through Quora and has made one major hire off the site. ....... Among the super-users, there’s one major complaint, and it boils down to declining quality. “So many stupid people are signing up” ....... The site was flooded with so many new members at the start of the year—a fivefold spike in just a month—that at one point in mid-January, half of Quora’s users had been on the site for two weeks or less.
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