Forget about Facebook, Google. Start fearing Quora.

March 23, 2011 § 7 Comments

By: Dan Kaplan

“Quora will be the most valuable company produced post 2005.”
-Keith Rabois, COO of Square.

In an age when Zynga and Groupon (both founded after 2005) have rocketed their ways to multi-billion dollar valuations within relative bats of an eye, Keith Rabois’s bold prediction, captured forever in the databanks of the tweetstream, may sound like the spasms of a deranged mind.

Quora? More valuable than Zynga’s Social Gaming Colossus or Groupon’s Globespanning Juggernaut of Daily Deals? A fucking Q&A site?

Yes.

Compared to Zynga and Groupon, Quora’s path to maniac glory will not be as shit-your-pants fast, nor will it be as clear a ride. But as the dust from the coming age of the internet settles, Marc Pincus and Andrew Mason will look upon Quora from their billionaires’ thrones and they, too, shall despoil their underwear in awe.

Quora, you see, is not exactly what it seems.

Just as Foursquare is actually a method of collecting data on your real-world movements masquerading as a check-in game, Quora is actually a database of human knowledge and experience that happens to look like Q&A. The interface is just the mechanism Rebekah Cox and her team have designed to convince users to pour the contents of their brains into the cloud and convince other users to rank them. Should the company manage to reach beyond Silicon Valley, delve broadly and deeply into brains in every vertical and figure out how to accurately evaluate the quality of their contents, Quora will make the mass sale of virtual goods and daily deals look like buckets of chilled piss.

Commentators often reference Wikipedia as Quora’s closest analog, but they are missing the point. Quora’s team is not trying to build a better Wikipedia. They are trying to build a better Google.

Ah, how the mighty face disruption. Consider an internet on which the best answers to the majority of our queries come not from the vast, increasingly noisy expanses of the world wide web but from the concentrated knowledge and experience of its most articlulate experts. Here, you no longer filter through 10 blue links (or hundreds) to find what you seek; you simply input your query and process the top response. Should you find yourself asking a question no one has asked before, you merely add it to the stream, where it makes its way to the people who can answer it best.

As Google’s algorithms shudder under the weight of spam and SEO, this is the future Quora seems poised to build. In this light, Keith Rabois’ seemingly insane comment about Quora’s value is actually quite far from insane. While Google tweaks its math and tries to figure out how to beat Facebook, Quora is going about its business, slowly building a compelling alternative.

So forget Bing. Forget Blekko. Forget every other “Google killer” you’ve ever seen. In a handful of years, it will be Quora standing over the body, dagger in hand, the blood of Google dripping slowly from the blade.

§ 7 Responses to Forget about Facebook, Google. Start fearing Quora.

  • [...] blood of Google dripping slowly from the blade.This post was cross posted from the Quora Review: http://quorareview.com/2011/03/2…Suggest edits to the author of this post:BIU     @  "Quora [...]

  • genelinetsky says:

    Indeed.

    Google says that its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

    In reality, Google’s mission is to sell clicks to advertisers. Clicks have to land somewhere, so Google has to index Web pages. It really wishes it could sell people directly but so far all of its attempts to do this have failed.

    As Dan notices, Quora pretends to be a Q&A site. It doesn’t even bother with the mission so far (why be evil when you don’t have to, right?).

    To bury Google, Quora will have to become a business. Will it organize the world’s knowledge, making it universally accessible and useful? Will it bury Facebook, too, by organizing the world’s people, making them universally accessible and useful — to advertisers?

    Keith knows…

  • jasitis says:

    Hi I am from Mumbai[India] quora is not loading here on campus ,since two days.checked at many systems.It is not blocked by any firewall.
    what happened?

  • [...] or premium subscription features,” are sure to follow the spate of articles about how Quora “is Google” or “isn’t [...]

  • [...] or premium subscription features,” are sure to follow the spate of articles about how Quora “is Google” or “isn’t [...]

  • Mark Conway says:

    I love the colorful metaphors, Dan. As a (fairly) recent Quora user, I can say that I’m spending a lot more time there than on any actual Google site. I’d love to see them roll out an API soon. There are some integrations I’d really like to see, particularly between some private networks that I’m part of in places like Yammer.

  • Franck Peterbaum says:

    Is this site a joke? Who the fuck writes this shit? Should Quora fear the overwhelming amount of douchebaggery that exists in Silicon Valley? Is it true that Keith Rabois is overrated and recently had a vasectomy? Is it true that Peter Thiel likes to fart under the covers? Why doesn’t anyone at Reddit like Yishan Wong? Is it true that Charlie Cheever had a hemorrhoid the size of a golf ball and was extremely irritable as a result – hence his “resignation”? Quora knows…

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