The Curious Case Of Adam D’Angelo: CEO, And Co-Founder, Quora!

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Today, we ask a question- that how is world’s biggest question and answer platform was formed? Well, the answer can be stated as- with a net worth of $600 Mn, Adam D’Angelo is the CEO and Co-founder of Quora and is also a 0.8% stakeholder of Facebook. He had been awarded a silver medal in the International Olympiad in Informatics in 2002 and is also a runner-up in Smartest people in tech article by Fortune Magazine.

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Adam had frequented the Phillips Exeter Academy for his high school in 2000, along with Mark Zuckerberg, where they instantly clicked and became friends, because both were late arrivals, transferring to the school in the 11th grade.

Together, they had also developed a music suggestion software that used to recommend you music according to your taste known as Synapse Media Player. Synapse eventually became a huge success and got acquired by Microsoft. Post this stint, Adam moved to Caltech to pursue his further studies, where he also created the website ‘BuddyZoo’. It allowed users to upload their AIM buddy list and compare them with those of other users.

He had also put his studies on hold for a while, to spend a semester helping Mark during the early days of Facebook. And after completing his education, Adam decided to join Mark Zuckerberg’s initial team that formed The Facebook as VP (Engineering).

One thing that he learned from Facebook and Mark was that:

The execution and representation OF a Product was far more important than an idea.

With that thought in purpose, he retired from Facebook as their CTO in 2008 and went on to create Quora.

Simply put – Quora is a question-and-answer website where users ask questions, answer them, and edit and organize them.

It also included his several former Facebook employees including Charlie Cheever in June 2009 and was made available to the public in June 2010.

Adam once said-

The beauty of Quora is its authenticity! It is a platform, for sharing knowledge, as opposed to information, where one can expect some really genuine answers, with facts and proofs.

The Quora community includes some well-known people, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Dustin Moskovitz, Jimmy Wales, Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher, Avicii, John Green (author), Adrián Lamo, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama,  etc.

So for instance, if you ask a question pointing out to Jimmy Wales (Founder of Wikipedia), you can expect the real Jimmy Wales to actually come and answer your question.

Even though, Quora is similar to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, Answers.com, yet works differently. Real names are mandatory, and you need to log in using either your Facebook or Google account or create an account there. You can follow topics, questions and people, and accordingly, their activity will show on your feed. You can Upvote or Downvote an answer, or even comment on one if you want to.

To sum it all– it is an ever-evolving Knowledgebase of several Knowledgebases!

But Adma faced challenges when designing the business model of this website. At first, Quora’s business model doesn’t sound like anything special. It’s just another Q&A site, similar to the likes of Yahoo Answers, Aardvark, Answers.com, Reddit, etc., but in reality, Quora for many reasons stands out with its contributors, major one being – the people who answer these questions on the site. Some of these are the brightest in their fields of expertise, professionals of reputed organisations, and many of whom are very well-known in the world as well.

Even after the Web has become so big, there still remains a huge gap. There’s a lot of information that has been in peoples’ heads, and not even a minimum has been shared on the Internet. A vast amount of knowledge that would be valuable to many people, is currently only available to a few. So, Quora instantly became one hotshot destination for sharing of information and valid information at that!

It came as a business model, which was self-learning and modulated, but from its users. It brings together people from different worlds to answer the same question, and has only one version of each question – no left wing, right wing, western, or eastern versions, to a question!

The second challenge that he faced was the moderation of questions and how relevant a question that could be asked can really be! After brief research, the biggest example, they found were the sites that were devoted to answering questions. They figured that a large part of Internet searches was framed as questions, and Yahoo Answers itself attracted more than 50 Mn users in the US every month. But due to the silliness of the answers and guessed answers with absolutely no knowledge of the subject, only a few searchers were able to justify the questions, while most of the searches went unanswered. Furthermore, their research pointed out that about 90% of the information people have was still in their heads and not on the web. They saw that the Q&A format had an equal amount of opportunity, and was just as ripe as the one that had made Facebook a billion-dollar business.

This was the problem they were attempting to solve, and this was the market segment they were targeting at. They hence created a platform, a knowledge base which would be created, managed, organized and edited by the users itself.

By the mid of 2011, in order to make information discovery and navigation easier, Quora decided to redesign its website, and also released an official Android and iPhone app as well. In the same year, Quora also introduced new features like – Video, Credits for asking-to-answer questions, and threaded comments and comment voting to its Q&A pages.

In 2012, Charlie stepped down from a day-to-day role at the company, while continuing to retain an advisory role. Other than that, what was even more interesting was that Adam believed in his idea so much that, he invested $50 Mn of his own money in the Series B round of funding of the company, and acquired sufficient control over the company to have things his way.

Today, one curious idea has become an invention and is one of the most prominent websites to be across pan internet that not only earns profits but also adds enormous value to our daily day lives!