Careers at Quora
Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world's knowledge.
Adam D’Angelo was the Chief Technology Officer at Facebook. At a certain point, he thought about the type of information available on the Internet. He felt that there were a lot of useful resources that were not online (e.g., in research papers), and even the ones that were often hard to find. So he left Facebook in 2009 to launch a Q&A website with his colleague Charlie Cheever – Quora.
Quora was to be a knowledge-sharing website that would differentiate itself from similar sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Ask Jeeves through quality. People who answered questions would have to indicate why they were qualified to do so – for example, if they had an educational background or work experience in the subject matter. Their responses would be made easy to find at later dates.
D’Angelo and Cheever spent months working on the design of the site. They then raised $11 million in funding from Benchmark Capital, enabling Quora to officially launch to the public in June 2010. It was highly popular among tech audiences, and gained a reputation for the expertise of its respondents and strength of its answers. Quora is now one of the most popular Q&A forums.
Business model of Quora
Quora has a multi-sided business model, with two interdependent customer segments that are both needed in order to operate: people who have questions and experts who provide answers.
Quora offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, risk reduction, brand/status.
The company creates accessibility by enabling anyone to ask questions and have them answered by recognized experts on the topic. Respondents include everyone from politicians to scientists. The site also increases access by providing a Spanish language version. Lastly, Quora allows users to share its content with others by republishing it on their platforms, as long as they give proper credit.
The company offers convenience by making its site easy to use. Its interface is similar to that of other social media platforms. Visitors can follow feeds featuring questions and answers on topics of particular interest, and their homepages aggregate the most recent activity in those feeds. The site also provides a customized list of additional questions based on previous ones asked.
The company reduces risk by maintaining high standards. Users are required to use their real, full name in order to open an account, as a means of preventing abuse by spammers and trolls. Visitors can help control the quality of answers by suggesting edits. Lastly, Quora has created its own algorithm for ranking the quality of answers, similar to the one Google has for search results.
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It has more than 100 million monthly unique visitors, with half of those located outside the U.S. It is considered by many to be the go-to website for quality answers from experts. Lastly, its respondents have included many prominent people, such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, and Vinod Khosla.
Quora’s main channel is its website. The company promotes its offering through its social media pages and participation in conferences.
Quora’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the main platform while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website provides answers to frequently asked questions. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of e-mail support.
Quora’s business model entails maintaining a robust common platform between two parties: people with questions and experts with answers.
Quora maintains partnerships with media publishers through which the publishers provide answers from Quora experts to readers’ questions on their platforms. Specific partners include TIME, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Slate, VentureBeat, Fortune, Business Insider, and Softpedia.
Quora also maintains a partnership initiative called “Knowledge Prizes”. Through this program, organizations can sponsor a financial prize that is given to respondents who provide the best new answer to a question. The winner of the prize can choose to keep it or donate it to a charity.
Quora’s main resource is its software platform, which includes a proprietary algorithm that ranks answers in terms of quality.
The firm depends on its technology employees to maintain the platform and its customer service staff to provide support.
Lastly, as a relatively new startup it has relied heavily on funding from outside parties, raising $141 million from 11 investors as of April 2014.
Quora has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation. Its biggest cost driver is likely sales/marketing, a fixed cost. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support/operations and research/development, both fixed expenses.
Quora did not monetize its website for several years, relying on investments raised in rounds of funding to support operations. However, in April 2016 it announced that it would be introducing third-party ads to the site, creating an advertising revenue stream.
The ads have not yet been implemented, although it conducted a pilot to see what kinds users would be most receptive to. Its first advertisers were Lever, Wealthfront, Uber, and Sunrun.
info: Adam earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the California Institute of Technology. He previously served as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Facebook.
info: Charlie earned an A.B. in Computer Science at Harvard University. He previously served as a Software Engineering Manager at Facebook and as a Software Development Engineer at Amazon. He is now a Software Developer at Exponent.
info: Xavier earned a degree in Engineering and Telecommunications at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He previously served as a Research/Engineering Director at Netflix.
info: Sarah earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA at Stanford University. She previously served as VP, Recruiting, HR, & User Operations at Quora and as a Partner at Graph Ventures.
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