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Summary:

For Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup, Quora it has been a scorching hot few weeks. Thanks to relentless media attention, the company started by Facebook alumni has now become one of the hottest consumer web companies in Silicon Valley. The question is how much is the company worth?

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For the rest of the world, it may have been a very cold winter, but for Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Quora, it has been a scorching hot few weeks. Thanks to relentless media attention, the company started by Facebook alumni –- ex-Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, former head of engineering for Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect –- has now become one of the hottest consumer web companies in Silicon Valley. Result – the company is being valued at jaw-dropping valuations. (Related Post: What Startups Are Getting the Money)

Quora co-founders Charlie Cheever & Adam D'Angelo @ the Crunchies 2010

According to my sources, the company has received investment interest from multiple investors who have valued the company at as much as $300 million. Quora founders have been shy of taking new investment, mostly because the company still has a lot of cash from its initial round of funding.

Matt Cohler of Benchmark Capital and a handful of other individual investors had invested $11 million in the company in March 2010. At that time Quora was valued at $86 million, making me wonder about its valuation. The fresh interest at higher valuation is a sign of their hotness. When I pinged Cohler earlier today to get a comment about investment interest, he declined to comment.

Quora quietly launched a year ago and developed a strong following among early adopters who embraced its question-and-answer social platform. Much of the early activity on the platform was around topics that were related to start-ups and entrepreneurship. Since then, a more diverse set of topics have gained attention, and the site has attracted senior Silicon Valley executives who have answered questions about their companies and shared experiences.

This high quality of content helped the company get attention from the blogging community and other media outlets — attention that has fueled the site’s growth, which has resulted in exalted expectations, outages and of course a lot of speculation about its future. The company recently won the Crunchies Best New Startup of the Year award, which has brought it even more attention, especially from the venture capital investors.

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  1. Impulse Magazine Friday, January 28, 2011

    I really don’t see how the evaluation for the company that high

  2. The difference with Quora and the tons of other Q&A sites is “senior Silicon Valley executives who have answered questions about their companies and shared experiences”. The real question is whether they will hang around as it gets more popular and the questions drift to topics covered by other sites- e.g. coffee shops with WiFi.

    1. I think that is indeed the question not only we will like to know, but it is something that keeps the guys from Quora awake as well. I have started using the site a lot less these days mostly because it is becoming too noisy and less delightful. That is a challenge, Charlie and Adam will have to solve.

  3. Quora offers an absolutely dreadful user experience and word is preading. If you like being followed around by quora’s version of the high school hall monitor and having half your posts either nuked and graded an F by some anonymous coward, then by all means hang out there. If you don’t have patience for wading through thousands of Yahoo Answers quality questions, then avoid the place like the plague.

    1. @Colin, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    2. exactly, i got banned within the first week by one of Quora’s “hall monitors”…beware asking anything but the most appriopriate questions on this pos of a site.
      do the hall monitors on Quora *ever* stray outside the site, I don’t think so, I regularly trash Quora on the major social media sites (including GigaOM!) and I’ve never them even try to defend themselves.

    3. Couldn’t have said it better. If you like the Soup Nazi, you’ll love Quora.

  4. How did this story not get posted to TechCrunch? They usually write at least one story about how great Quora is every day.

    Privately held startups are becoming the new penny stocks – pump and dump, all part of the greater fool syndrome.

    1. KenG, that is rich :-)

      Well, I am just letting you know the facts. As a group, we have been interested in Quora long before its current hype, mostly because I believe the Q&A and curated exchange of information is part of the future of the Internet.

      Just as Quora, we care about StackOverflow and a score of other companies that are helping with discovery of content, especially around vertical challenges. I would put Flowspring in that category.

      What you would not see us do, become obsessed about the site enough to the detriment of everything else we do. And if I do, trust me, I know when to leave my readers alone.

      Also if they are indeed penny stocks, there is not stock being traded handed. What is being traded is your attention. I think for that you as an INternet user have a choice to see, try and ignore. I think that is the right approach to take on most of the new services. I personally started out using Quora a lot, but now find it less useful and as a result I don’t go back as much.

      1. Om, I was teasing TechCrunch more than you, as they had seemingly been posting daily on Quora, and I just can’t understand why, as I just don’t see its value.

        My reference to penny stocks was made because so many privately held web startups seem to have their PR machines in overdrive, and not so much blathering about their products, but rather about their valuation on the private markets. My take is that the early investors have realized their investment is not as good of an idea as they thought, and they are hyping the company in the hopes that somebody will buy them at a higher valuation.

        They (the privately held startups of questionable value) do get my attention, but only because the tech blogs are saturated with stories about how great they are, and how they are just like Facebook or Twitter, which of course, are the next Google. I can ignore it, or I can make enough snarky comments so these stories disappear. Snarky is more fun than ignoring, and yields better results.

      2. That is very well said Om. The user’s attention is the real currency on the internet and people need to ration out what they give their attention to. As it is most of it gets wasted on facebook twitter and the likes. And most other companies try to get a piece of it through various antics – free stuff or other ways to massage the user’s ego (three words.me)

  5. I think most people who actually looked at Quora in the publicity blitz after Christmas (outside of the Silicon valley bubble) tried it and said “meh”. (Judging by the lack of chatter about Quora on my twitterstream after the week 1 “I am answering”, anyway)

    In fact the only “Quora” twts I see now are from the Silicon Valleyites, mainly TechCrunch but now et tu, Om?

    Our week 1 analysis IMO still stands, ie there is no sustainable advantage, there are major issues with scaling, and loads of niche competitors – never mind the existing sites and Yahoo Groups that also do this job.

    As to our view on the Amazing Quora PR Push, which is more interesting than the company in many ways, that is here:

    http://broadstuff.com/archives/2378-Quora-Born-on-Monday,-Spammed-on-Tuesday,-Hyped-on-Wednesday,-Scammed-on-Thursday,-Lampooned-on-Friday…..html

    Et Tu, Om?

    1. Alan

      I am not sure what is the point you are trying to make? So there is a lot of interest in this company and they are getting a lot of investor attention. I think that is a good thing for Quora, the start-up. Will it be a good business — i am not sure, and even the founders don’t quite know that just yet.

      1. My main point – the fundamentals don’t seem to support the Silicon Valley hype on this one, the corollary being that the hype does not seem to be grassroots driven.

  6. It’s so good to hear the voices of reason from you guys(commenting). It’s funny to see the buzz get so loud around this thing. So you built a one-word-named yahoo answers, good job.
    So what? You just mention fb execs and get funding immediately now? How the hell did anyone think this was unique..or even good?
    #quoraisawaste

    1. Nathan

      I am not sure about your comment so having a tough time answering it to your satisfaction. I agree, the buzz around this is “off the hook.” I went away for a month long vacation and suddenly these guys are the greatest thing since MySpace or whatever.

      I came back to a service that has become less useful and more noisy. But it has become bigger and thus it is now interesting to investors who are looking to invest in a company that is perceived to have momentum and technology-base. (In this case FB engineering talent is pretty solid.). So there you have it — lot of people interested in this company.

      For me the real test is how many times they make me coming back and if they can keep the service useful. The time I devote to them in a day is the only right metric of success in my books.

      Anyway too long an answer ;-)

  7. Quora, at the moment, is “worth” whatever the deal got priced at — market economics at work. the $ number discussion is moot.

    As far as predictions about its usefulness or longevity go, I think they are clearly on to something interesting — getting that many people engaged will have value. if they amass an index of all things useful, it will become a very valuable place to go to find answers and information — “information” always has value, especially if its what lots of people are looking for. Just look at the entrepreneur related questions on the site — better info than venturehacks or Y-c for potential entrepreneurs around the world. And I hope as their audience grows beyond early adopters, they will collect (and their audience will curate) equally valuable information about other topics like growing organic grains or coffee or picking a course of study or a profession etc etc etc

    Quora may have started as a valley echo-chamber, but has grown beyond that phase I believe.

  8. This is just another company living in the “bubble” again… TC always writes about them …I suppose they are part of the collusion that goes on in Silicon Valley where everyone hypes a company and a few people cash in on it ….there is nothing redeemable about quora except a bunch of those very people asking questions?

  9. By the way, I read your book after enrolling in the Tycoon Playbook course. Now I understand why it’s a keystone component. Well done.

  10. Quora is really just a fancy forum. Forums are often over looked in the industry. The fact is that they are niche social networks and a great place for advertisers to brand themselves to a specific audience.
    I think Quora is way over valued but most forums are way under valued. I guess a fancy skin and being in the right niche pays off well.

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