In theory, if enough people join the site and use it regularly, Quora might accomplish this monumental task. Imagine a massive game of 20 questions — or, 20 trillion questions — with people from all over the globe asking any question that springs to mind while others with the knowledge to answer do just that. That's Quora in a nutshell.
Once a question has been asked, the system remembers it, so anyone with the same question is directed to the thread of answers already in progress. The best answers to a given question are voted up by the community. The worst are voted down.
This may sound identical to Yahoo! Answers, an observation that is not lost on Quora users.
Some of the most compelling pro-Quora answers to the question, "What are the differences between Quora and Yahoo! Answers?" are that Quora is not supported by advertisements; there is a limited window of time in which someone can reply to questions posed on Yahoo! Answers, which is not the case with Quora; and people's Quora profiles are connected to their Facebook accounts, which means real names are used — a requirement that works to discourage anonymous trolling of question threads.
"From what I've been reading in the press, it's a pretty hot, up-and-coming startup," said Oscar Garcia, president of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. "I'm very, very excited."
Garcia said it is always great to have an exciting company in Mountain View, as it raises the profile of the city. With more people working downtown, there will inevitably be more business for local restaurants and other merchants in and around Castro Street, he said.
"The rising tide raises all ships," Garcia said.
While Quora's user base is great at answering questions, its founders are not so approachable. They did not respond to requests for an interview through its website or when a reporter visited the company's Palo Alto headquarters. Co-founder Adam D'Angelo did responded to the Quora thread, "Why is Quora moving to Mountain View?"
"We're running out of space in our current office," D'Angelo wrote. "So we've been looking for more space for a while now. Because the downtown Palo Alto market is so hot, there is no available office space big enough for us nearby."
D'Angelo said he and Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever wanted to find an office close to a Caltrain station, near "restaurants and other downtown amenities." The new Quora headquarters will take up the fourth and fifth floors of 650 Castro St., in the building that currently houses the UPS Store and Le Boulanger, according to Palo Alto-based technology blog TechCrunch.
D'Angelo and Cheever came from Facebook, leaving the social network in 2009 to start their project. According to the Bloomberg tech blog, Tech Deals, the two recently leveraged their Silicon Valley connections to raise $50 million, which came in a round of investment in May.
The billionaire co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, led that round of investment, according to Tech Deals. Thiel has also invested in Facebook and Zynga.