Zillow CEO Rich Barton launched a side project called Pozit today, which plays in the hot space of social Q&A. Barton, who formerly founded Expedia, is a venture partner at Benchmark, on the board of a few companies, and recently started the stealth travel startup New Travelco. (So I think the question is, what have you and I been doing with our spare time lately?)
Pozit is a simple tool for starting a discussion with your friends. You ask a question and invite friends to answer using an invite-only short URL. Then that page archives the discussion for posterity. Barton and his brother-in-law Jay Karas of CarbonRally told John Cook of TechFlash the site is a “science experiment” without a business model. Barton said, “We think recommendations from friends are way more interesting than what everyone says.”
The site seems very beta, but it’s open to the public so you can check it out. Cook notes that many questions are about travel, which could be an indication that Pozit will be wrapped into New Travelco. Some sample questions include:
What’s your favorite CD of 2009? I need to upgrade my Itunes, and would love to know what music you’re all digging these days.
Who’s going to the 10th reunion this June? Any ideas of places where we can stay together?
Social Q&A is hopping, with sites like Aardvark (bought by Google), Quora (raised a bunch of money), StackOverflow (also raised a bunch of money), Hunch (yup, bunch of money) and PeerPong (about to launch) all working around the idea of soliciting advice and information from like-minded people and friends. And the grandaddy of social Q&A — Yahoo Answers — just answered its billionth question. Of these, Pozit is easily the most locked down, requiring that you or one of your invitees ask friends to join directly. It may be hard to foster growth with such private discussions.
Probably the most direct Pozit competitor is a prototype Facebook product called “Questions,” which looks like it will push out queries to a user’s network with the aim of getting instantaneous answers about logistics and recommendations. When Questions does launch, it will obviously benefit from existing on a site that hundreds of millions people visit everyday.
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