Quora is being valued at more than $1bn. Seriously?

What do you make of Quora? We’ve all spent (a little) time on it, asked a few questions and followed a few like minded souls. Enough to get a reasonable feel for it. Personally I’m lukewarm on it.

But elsewhere, the feeling of some out there is that Quora is gold dust and than less than a year after becoming publicly available it is apparently worth more than $1bn. Really? Are you sure?

?Business Insider reports that the site started by former Facebook execs Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever has already turned down an offer of $1bn.

One of our sources told us something remarkable. He said that he had heard gossip that Quora had already turned down $1 billion acquisition offer. This piece of gossip seemed improbable to us – nuts, really.

But we reached out to a Quora investor anyway and asked about this alleged billion dollar offer. His answer: “I don’t know about that.  But it would be too low,” says ?Business Insider.

Too low? I seriously do not buy this. Considering, as Business Insider points out, Quora is “a fancy, cleaned-up version of popular but junky Q&A sites Yahoo! Answers and Answers.com”. The latter had traffic in the region of 100 million monthly uniques and was recently bought by AFCV Holdings, a unit of Summit Partners, for $127m.

Is Quora worth almost eight times more than Answers.com? Does it do that much more. Sure it is nicely designed, but I don’t see where you get $1bn or how you get there. I mean have you noticed on Quora how many questions go unanswered? That seems a bit of an issue in fostering repeat traffic.

Plus we are already seeing high profile people like Jay Rosen saying they are quitting Quora.

All this talk of billions is leading some to ask whether there a new dotcom bubble effect taking place in Silicon Valley. Quora is joined in its $1bn plus valuation by Spotify, which also earned that honour this week.

It doesn’t stop there. Zynga also has a $1bn plus valuation. Okay it is valued at $7bn, but despite the similarities with the dotcom bust of 200o some say there are differences this time around.

Rory Maher, analyst at Hudson Square Research in New York, told the Independent recently:  “I hesitate to call it a bubble, because we are seeing this industry growing rapidly and a lot of the demand we are seeing reflects that,” said Mr Maher. “These are private companies trading on [private] exchanges where there is a lot of demand with limited supply, so valuations have risen sharply. Investors badly want to get a piece of these companies, and they are willing to pay a premium to do so.”

  • http://josephstashko.me Joseph Stashko

    One of the puzzling aspects about Quora is the team they use to police and clean up the place. I’ve had several questions marked as “inappropriate”, when they’ve been anything but.

    Questions asking about location services, hyperlocal websites etc have been edited by Quora staff without my say so, and it doesn’t seem like I’m alone in that experience. Very odd, and not an attitude which seems conducive to a good community, and that’s without even mentioning the insane valuation.

  • @gordonmacmillan

    @Joseph that is very odd, particularly if the editing is human. Suggests they are outsourcing it to a lowlevel operation that has little understanding of the work they’re doing.

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  • Sue Keogh

    Great article in the Observer at the weekend: Is this the start of the second dotcom bubble? http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/20/is-this-the-start-of-the-second-dotcom-bubble?
    It listed the ten tell-tale signs that a bubble is being blown, and one of the first ones is ‘Dumb-money companies start paying over the odds for New Thing acquisitions.’

  • http://beta.fishburn-hedges.co.uk Peter Sigrist

    I’m not a financial analyst (that’s a disclaimer…) but it would appear to me that this bubble, if that’s what it is, differs very substantially from the dot.com bubble. The problem that time round was that the run of IPOs and inflated growth expectations dragged up the entire stock market, which meant everyone was exposed, through pensions, endowment policies and Government investment in stocks, even if they were not shareholders. This time round, if there are losses to be made, the hit will be to private investors, and in particular, PE and VC investors. With the best will in the world, I’m not likely ever to see any of that money, so I’m not too worried about it.

    Moreover, taking substantial risks is part and parcel of the PE and VC models. If Facebook offered shares publicly today, just because Goldman Sachs bought shares valuing the company at $50bn, it doesn’t mean that everyone else would. Therefore, it’s not even clear that there’s a bubble in the broader sense that there was one a decade ago.

    But, I really am not a financial analyst, so take that all with a pinch of salt…

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