Quora is a platform for people to post questions and seek answers from the crowd. Multiple people could answer the same question in any way they like and the crowd could surface the “best answer” by upvoting/downvoting the provided answers. Users could follow people or topics they are particularly interested in and would want to either increase their knowledge or contribute to the wisdom out there on a particular topic.
Many people question the very existence of Quora because Google already exists to find the answers for us. There is an interesting difference in the approach followed by the two companies. While Google is great at optimizing the search results and ranking of all the content out there (including websites, blogs, content from Quora etc.), Google does not facilitate the creation of the content. On the other hand, Quora is built as a platform where people could easily create high-quality content without the need to build more websites/blogs. These are fundamentally two different approaches to solving the same problem around answering users questions.
Quora allows free use of its platform to all the users to post questions and answers. It gives an opportunity for knowledge seekers to learn more about a particular topic as well as for experts to share their knowledge. Since other people can rate the answers, there is an incentive to write a well thought-out answer. Also, since other people choose what questions they want to answer, there is an equally good incentive to ask genuine questions. This balance on both sides, help Quora ensure high-quality content remains on the platform.
Quora also gives an opportunity to its users to build a reputation as an expert in a particular field by posting frequently high-quality answers about a certain topic. This ensures continuous engagement of experts on the platform along with the constant creation of high-quality content. Adam D’Angelo, the founder of Quora and ex-CTO of Facebook, strongly believes that “You’re answering questions because you want to build your reputation or you genuinely, intrinsically enjoy helping people.” Quora has been pretty successful in leveraging this basic human tendency of helping others and getting recognition to build its platform.
Value creation and capture:
Quora creates value by making it easier to crowdsource the human knowledge in an easy to consume Q&A format. It facilitates the creation of high-quality content from the crowd and makes it accessible to everyone on the internet, basically democratizing the creation and consumption of knowledge. It had more than 80M monthly unique visitors and was #140 most visited website in the world.
Needless to say that Quora creates immense value by leveraging the power of crowd but it hasn’t started monetizing the platform yet. Its current focus is solely on building the highly valuable database of high-quality Q&A and building its community of active users. With the highly engaged community and the rich database, it should not be too hard for Quora to eventually capture the value it is creating. There could be multiple ways of monetising its platform:
- Internet Advertising: Serve sponsored advt. based on search query just like Google
- Jobs and Career: refer experts to relevant companies/job roles
- Enterprise portal: paid version of Quora for companies to collate internal knowledge from employees
- Promoted questions/answers: Monetising users desire to promote their question/answers
Overall, Quora has been very successful in leveraging the crowdsourcing model to create value by building an easy to use platform and incentivising the crowd in the right fashion. The next step in its journey would be to capture the value that it has created.