If Quora's presumptuous plan to "grow the world's knowledge" doesn't work out, perhaps it can pivot into a Silicon Valley burn book. This insider spat between blogger-turned-investor Ben Parr and Napster founder John Fanning is a good start. Things got so litigious, a Quora admin had to put on his Tina Fey bossy pants and break things up.
The question that kicked things off came from an anonymous Quora user. Is it common, the user asked, for an investment firm like NetCapital, which includes a former partner with the global consultancy Bain & Company, to charge $250 "just to speak to their team?"
Short answer: no. But it was enough to reignite the old pay-to-pitch debate over charging struggling entrepreneurs to get their deck in front of rich investors—a practice typically only seen among bottom feeders.
Parr, whose own celebrity-adjacent investment firm #DominateFund was met with a collective eyeroll, didn't miss the chance to punch above his weight class. Parr's answer (below) called play-to-pitch firms con artists and was up-voted by 44 people, including the former Square COO Keith Rabois.
Anyone who charges you to speak to them isn't an actual investor—we call that a con artist. The best investors and investor platforms (AngelList, FundersClub) don't charge.
John Fanning, uncle to Shawn Fanning and chairman of NetCapital, did the only logical thing for someone with no defensible reason to charge entrepreneurs $250, he threatened to sue:
At that point, Quora admin Marc Bodnick felt compelled to get involved, deleting Fanning's edit for violating Quora's "Be Nice Be Respectful" policy, which presumably doesn't apply to racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and homophobia.
Fanning has yet to explain why it's libelous, but his own answer to the question, which accused the Quora asker of "intentionally misrepresenting" the $250 fee lies hidden at the bottom of the thread because it was down-voted. Possibly for sounding like "an infomercial."
Can one sue for down-voting? If so, I'm sure Fanning's lawyer would like to speak to you.
[Photo via Getty]