My tech op-ed article posted this morning at Venturebeat, "Are Q&A startups a threat to Google?", and was reposted at the NYTimes site here. [Update] Also Techmeme-ed here, which is cool since it's my favorite news aggregator.
Most of my interview transcript with Ro Choy, CEO of Peerpong, and Charlie Cheever, Co-founder of Quora, was edited out, so below are some of their additional insights:
When did the light bulb for Quora go off for you?
Charlie Cheever: Over the last few years, there have been a bunch of services that have let people put more and more content onto the Internet -- Facebook and Flickr for photos, Twitter for link sharing, status updates, etc. -- but we didn't see any great way for people to share the knowledge that they accumulate over their lives, so we wanted to make a place for that. There were other things as well. For example, I like blogging but I didn't always know what people wanted me to write about. One thing we've tried to build Quora to provide is a good set of prompts from other people that you can respond to.
When you looked at this opportunity, what were the comparables? Yahoo! Answers, Google, or others?
Charlie Cheever: We thought about all those things but we’ve mostly been focused on making a product to fill a need we saw in the world. I do think there are a lot of things that people want to know that you can't find easily with a search engine because the information either isn't on the web yet, or isn't there in a form that you can easily consume. This is especially true with long tail content.
Ro Choy: Our focus and good corollary is Google. Google can effectively find content through use of pagerank. Can we do that for people? If you believe the vast amount of knowledge doesn’t exist online yet, then if you could ultimately categorize an index of content, publish it, and make it searchable…. If you could do this for 50 million, 100 million people, or half a billion people -- that was the Big Hairy Audacious Goal.