The increased attention on Quora reminds us of two New York companies: one old, one new.
Ask.com, formerly Ask Jeeves, recently pivoted to a Q&A strategy after losing the search wars. Jeeves was fired in 2006 (although you can actually dress him up on uk.ask.com) and Ask.com scrambled around for a while trying to find its niche.
Tadpole startup Kommons launched in September as an add-on to Twitter that “amplifies your questions.” The idea is that you can ask @KanyeWest anything you want on Twitter, but he’s probably going to ignore you. Kommons lets users back a question directed at a specific person.
For example, someone might ask “Hey @KanyeWest, what kind of toothbrush do you have?” And then hundreds or thousands of people would follow the question and Kanye would realize that his fans really care about what kind of toothbrush he uses, and upload a picture of it to Twitter.
The questions are usually more confrontational than that, though. Founder Cody Brown, who also founded the news site NYU Local, keeps fielding the same question: How is Kommons different from Quora?
“Kommons is different than Quora, it’s not either/or,” he wrote on Twitter. “Directed questions versus recreational questions.”
“My answer from 3 months ago,” he tweeted later, linking back to his answer on Kommons the first time he was asked that question.
“We’re different than Quora,” he told @jcstearns. “I wrote about this a few months ago.”
Being constantly compared to another company must be annoying. But Quora is a well-resourced Silicon Valley startup started by former Facebook employees and valued at upwards of $80 million. Brown should be flattered.