Forever is a mighty long time. Just ask Prince. But that's the lifespan that Quora thinks it scored by accepting $140 million in venture capital. According to Re/code, the Series C round values the 4-year-old, revenue-less Q&A site at $900 million, more than double the $400 million it was "worth" in 2012.
It's not like one guy got giddy and "forever" just slipped out. In interviews with Re/code, Quora CEO and former Facebook CTO Adam D'Angelo said it once. Then Marc Bodnick, Quora's head of business and marketing and the former cofounder of Bono's private equity firm added "forever and ever."
Here are the quotes that should launch a thousand Quora questions, such as "When did venture capitalists stop expecting returns on their investment in seven to 10 years?" and "Where might I procure whatever Quora is smoking?"
"Most of the money is just going to sit in our bank and be insurance for us, in case there's some sort of financial crisis, or anything unusual that might happen," D'Angelo told Re/code. "It's really important that we're building a product and service that can last and stay independent forever."
The Quora IPO is not happening anytime soon, because the company has no revenue. "We will have to go public or have other investors that will buy them out," D'Angelo said. "We've selected for investors that are very long-term focused." [...]
"We think we have the best Q&A on the Internet, the biggest library of first-hand knowledge on the Internet, and the second-biggest library of general knowledge after Wikipedia," Bodnick said. "Our goal is to put the money in the bank as insurance against the future, and keep building the permanent library, and make sure it lasts forever and ever."
Quora, which prefers vanity metrics to real ones, declined to give a number, but Bodnick told Re/code public measurement services systematically undercount the site by 5 to 15 times and that growth was "steady, continuous and strong."
The company plans on incorporating ads next year and says its next big project will be internationalization into other languages, neglecting to mention that most of its traffic already appears to come from India.
There's a chance that Wikipedia's reign could be contested:
Craigslist is great. But start-ups are building successful business by outdoing it niche by niche. Same thing could happen to Wikipedia.
— Reihan Salam (@reihan) April 9, 2014
But here's another question for Quora: Do Tiger Global Management, Benchmark, Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Peter Thiel sound like the kind of investors who will wait forever for an exit?