How Does Quora Make Money? Quora Business Model Explained

Quora is a question-and-answer website that allows anyone to ask questions publicly or anonymously. As of now, Quora has grown thanks to several rounds of investments from venture capital firms. Among those firms are Peter Thiel’s Founders Funds and Paul Graham’s Y Combinator. Quora now generates revenues with advertising.

Quora Business Model Explained


What is Quora?

Founded by Adam D’Angelo, former Facebook’s CTO, Quora is a question-and-answer site that allows anyone to ask any question; it is possible to do that on Google.

The main difference is that you get answers from real people on Quora. Google, instead, matches a user query with content available on the web. Also, Quora allows users to ask questions publicly or anonymously.

Quora has over 190 million monthly users, with millions of questions asked and answered.

Besides being a Q&A platform, Quora is a huge, engaged community.

Also,   many public people take the time to answer questions personally, just like Hillary Clinton starts answering Quora questions during the electoral campaign.

Or famous authors like Tim Ferris organize Q&A sessions during his book launch. Therefore, you can access expertise for free and easily.

This, of course, represents a great success for Quora.

What are the most frequently asked questions on Quora?

The most asked questions on Quora are in the following categories:

  • Career advice (how can one become a good machine learning engineer?).
  • Life advice (what skill should I learn for 1-2 hours a day to help me succeed?).
  • Medicine and healthcare (what is the best natural treatment for cluster headaches?).
  • Politics of the USA (how did Donald Trump win the 2016 US Presidential Election?).
  • Dating and relationships (how can you be sure the person you’re going to marry is the one?).
  • Jobs and careers (is software development really a dead-end job after 35-40?).


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/21/uniquorn

How much is Quora worth?

After receiving a series D investment of $85 million, Quora got total funding of $452 million.

This places Quora among the so-called Unicorn startups with a valuation of $1.8 billion, according to Tech Crunch.

If the company keeps growing and attracting larger investors, it will go for an IPO. However, before taking this step, Quora has to be able at least to generate revenues to sustain its growth.

How sticky is Quora? Quora vs. Reddit

By looking at the comparison between Quora and Reddit, it seems clear that Reddit is stickier than Quora:

Quora engagement metrics

reddit engagement metrics

Regarding page views and time spent on a page, Reddit shows 10:33 minutes and 7.43, respectively. Compared to Quora 2:34 minutes and 2.15 page views.

However, there are a couple of considerations here. First, Reddit has been around for longer (founded in 2005).

Second, Reddit is more of a forum where anyone can participate in the discussion. Quora is more based on writers’ ability to engage users.

And Quora’s ability to create the right environment to retain writers.

Therefore, Quora is much more about making knowledge and expertise available to its users even though both platforms are accessible from Google search results.

Often answers on Quora are way shorter than discussions on Reddit. Thus, many users might just get in, read the answer and leave.

Also, ever since Google has been experimenting with the so-called featured snippet, it has used more and more answers to complex queries, coming from Quora, as a way to answer users’ questions directly from the search results.

Therefore, Google might be de facto stealing traffic from Quora itself.

how does duckduckgo make money

See how Google answers with a featured snippet to an otherwise complex query by getting content from Quora

Quora’s success?

Quora is a Q&A platform that empowers people to share and grow the world’s knowledge. The vast majority of human knowledge is still not on the internet. Most of it is trapped in the form of experience in people’s heads, or buried in books and papers that only experts can access. More than a billion people use the internet yet only a tiny fraction contribute their knowledge to it. We want to democratize access to knowledge of all kinds—from politics to painting, cooking to coding, etymology to experiences—so if someone out there knows something, anyone else can learn it. Our mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge, and we’re building a world-class team to help us achieve this mission.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/company/1039156/

I believe three critical factors contributed and contribute to Quora success:

Questions that Google can’t answer (Yet)

From the mission above, it’s clear that Quora is about knowledge.

When Google started; it was about organizing the information scattered around the web with smart algorithms. PageRank was the most intelligent at the time.

Able to put an order to a network made of billion disjoined pages.

Quora, instead, started from the opposite assumption. Take what’s inside experts’ people heads and make it available to anyone.

That is true; Google is moving more and more toward giving its users as many answers as possible (we saw that with the featured snippet and the transition toward voice search).

However, that knowledge is still organized by algorithms that extract relevant information from web pages. Instead, Quora starts from human creation and curation.

The algorithms play a role just in understanding people’s preferences, the so-called feed. In a world that is moving swiftly toward AI (Google is now an AI-first company), having this human approach, for now, might be the winning hand.

This connects to the next point.

Human vs. AI

In the digital marketing space, ChatBots are taking over. However, for how much any online business loves the idea of software that creates content automatically. People still like to interact with people.

Quora allows just that. Not by chance; the most popular questions are those related to life and career advice.

We all want to feel understood. There’s no better way than having other people share their experiences.

The paradox here is that in a digital world that moves toward automation and AI, having a community based on human interactions might be a winning strategy in the long run.

Quora is about Quorans

Another critical aspect is that Quora is as much about asking questions as it is about answering them.

Quora does not only provide value to its users but also to people who write. Many aspiring writers get on Quora each day to hone their craft. That is why they love to call themselves Quorans. 

Key Quora partners

There are few stakeholders involved in Quora’s success. Those are:

  • Top Writers
  • VIP Writers
  • Users
  • Power Users
  • Publishers/Online Businesses
  • Investors

The possible business model evolution of Quora

As of now, Quora’s business model is based on two main foundations:

  • investors looking for ROI through exit or IPO
  • and publishers/online businesses looking for ROI through advertising

Quora is successfully generating revenue through its advertising program. However, it isn’t clear yet whether the company is profitable or not.

Therefore, if, as of now, the company still has to rely on financial resources coming from investors plus advertising, the future will move more toward advertising alone to allow Quora to become profitable.

Of course, other monetization strategies will get experimented on in the meanwhile.

Related Publishing Business Models

New York Business Model

The New York Times generated over $2 billion in revenues in 2021, $1.36 billion in subscriptions, $497 million in advertising, and $215 million in other revenues. Of the subscription revenues, over $773 million were generated by digital subscriptions, while printed subscriptions generated $588 million.

Google Business Model

Google is a platform, and a tech media company running an attention-based business model. As of 2021, Alphabet’s Google generated over $257 billion in revenues. Over $209 billion (over 81% of the total revenues) came from Google Advertising products (Google Search, YouTube Ads, and Network Members sites). They were followed by over $28 billion in other revenues (comprising Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium), and by Google Cloud, which generated over $19 billion in 2021.

Facebook Business Model

Facebook, the main product of Meta, is an attention merchant. As such, its algorithms condense the attention of over 2.91 billion monthly active users as of June 2021. Meta generated $117.9 billion in revenues in 2021, of which $114.9 billion was from advertising (97.4% of the total revenues) and over $2.2 billion from Reality Labs (the augmented and virtual reality products arm). 

Twitter Business Model

Twitter makes money in two ways: advertising and data licensing. In 2021, Twitter generated $4.5 billion from advertising and $570 million from data licensing. While Twitter generated $5 billion in total revenues, it lost 221 million.

Medium Business Model

Medium is an online media platform leveraging the concept of social media for journalism, where writers are prompted to the platform to build their following through in-depth writings and essays. The platform follows a freemium model, and it makes money by prompting users to subscribe to articles behind paid walls (Medium charges $5/month or $50/year), and writers are paid based on readership.

Wikipedia Business Model

Wikipedia is sustained by the Wikimedia Foundation, supported mostly by donations and contributions, which in 2021 amounted to over $153 million. Wikipedia is among the most popular websites on earth, and it is, as of these days, an open, non-profit project, on which twelve other projects have been developed.

WordPress Business Model

WordPress.org became the most popular CMS and blogging platform in which the Foundation owns the trademark, and revenues come from donations. The Foundation holds a public benefit corporation that manages the revenues from WordPress events and conferences. Automaticc – the business arm – monetizes premium tools built on WordPress.com (a premium platform) through freemiums.

Squarespace Business Model

Squarespace is a North American hosting and website-building company. Founded in 2004 by college student Anthony Casalena as a blog hosting service, it grew to become of the most successful website-building companies. The company mostly makes money via its subscription plans. It also makes money via customizations on top of its subscription plans. And in part also transaction fees for the website where it processes the sales.

Wix Business Model

Wix is an Israeli provider of cloud-based web development services and is perhaps best known for its drag-and-drop website builder. Founded in 2006, the vision was to empower anyone to build their own site without coding, thus creating a drag-and-drop solution. Wix operates on a freemium model to attract customers to its platform, where those are prompted to enroll in one of its subscription plans.

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