Warning : This is an immensely long post. If you don't want to read it all, skip to the bottom
Enough already. I've been asked this question at least a million times ever since I accepted the Quora offer a couple of months back and rejected all other offers I had, including a super lucrative (ahem ahem) Google offer. It was a very difficult decision when I took it - I had several sleepless nights. But since I took the plunge, I've grown more and more confident of the decision. Here is my detailed answer
to the question
- "Why Quora?"
Okay a little background first. Quora
, if you don't know already, is a question-answer site like Yahoo Answers. Only it is infinitely better than Yahoo Answers. There is a very meaningful and engaging social layer to Q&A and very very high quality content. I'd been spending over 6 hours a day on Quora before I even knew I'd interview with them. It's dangerously addictive for anyone who is slightly curious of mind. Give it an honest try for a couple of days and you'd see for yourself.
Okay, so why did I choose Quora?1. Better learning curve at the beginning of my career :
- Quora's team quality : Their team has quiet a pedigree. Starting right from their CEO Adam D'Angelo who was CTO of Facebook before he quit, everybody is a Ninja. Several of them are Facebook tops. People I met at interviews were all brilliant. Average quality of an engineer is too high for any viable comparison. How could I miss such an incredible learning opportunity?
- Quora's team size: When I accepted the offer, they had < 35 people with < 15 engineers. With such a small size there is a lot of work to be done per head, simple maths. Instead of going for a vertical job right in the beginning, as Google's Search Infrastructure team was providing me, I'm going horizontal.
- Non-technical stuff : There is a good chance that at some point of time, I'd come back to India and launch a start-up of my own. I need to learn all things like - VC funding, product design, management, marketing, talent acquisition, customer acquisition etc. I can get to see them from very close in a place like Quora.
2. Belief in Quora as product : that it solves real and meaningful problem(s)
- Conventionally, human knowledge has always been stored and transferred through questions and answers. Google came in at some point and made us change our question to three word queries. Every time you use Google, there is something specific you want to find out. e.g you want to know how to go from IIT Delhi to Delhi University North Campus, you make a query : IITD DU North campus auto fare. You get a bunch of results, you open & read them all till you find one that actually contains some useful information. You realize that fare is huge so you decide to take a metro. You make another Google query : Delhi metro map. On Quora you'd simply ask : What is the best way to go to Delhi University North Campus from IIT Delhi? and you'd get the answer along with bonus cookie tips.
- Next Google won't be a search engine because none can beat Google at that. It'd have to be something fundamentally different. I genuinely believe that Quora is the next Google.
- On Facebook you follow your friends and stay connected to them. That is all fine and good till some point after which it becomes immensely boring. You don't want to know what stupid things your friends are upto all the time - simply because you're not interested in those things. On Quora you interact with those people who are experts in areas that you're most interested in.
- Facebook is digressive in the sense that much of interaction that is done on Facebook could in fact be done in real world itself. Interaction on Quora is true online social networking for it can't be done in real life. Discovery is the most important aspect of networking and that is what Quora is best at. I believe Quora is the next Facebook, as well.
- Blogging is a huge industry. People blog about things that they know and hope that others read it. People who do want to read such things have a hard time finding such blogs to follow. It's all chaotic and there is little ecosystem that binds it all. Quora does this job very well as well - for it knows your interests very well. You anyway visit Quora daily for knowledge, how is an answer written at Quora different from a blog entry written somewhere? And with inclusion of their feature of "Boards", I believe that Quora is on way of becoming the next Blogger/Wordpress as well. If you must think I'm out of my wits : here is a fun fact - I've maintained a programming based blog for over two years and there are 29 followers. I've a programming based board at Quora with merely 13 posts and there are over 900 followers in under 3 months.
- I in fact go a step further ahead. I see Quora bringing a revolution in very huge consulting industry as well. More on that some other time.
3. Money :
- My regular salary at Quora is slightly under half of what I was deterministically going to get at Google including all bonuses & stock and the absolute difference is astoundingly huge. However I've been given some Quora stock as options. Of course these options won't be worth egg shells if Quora fails, but even if it does only moderately well, by my sloppy maths, my stock options would be worth a LOT. 'Nuff said.
- Even if against all odds, Quora fails disastrously, my experience with a failed serious startup would make my employability very high, leading to much better prospects in future.
4. Simple fascination with Quora :
- I use Quora daily. It'd be awesome to work for a product I love.
- I get immensely positive vibes from using Quora like I get from Gmail or Google Maps or Dropbox. Google search gives me neutral vibes and FB is slightly negative. But that is just me.
- Their UI is absolutely brilliant. Fresh, minimalistic and yet complete. I haven't seen a more refined UI.
- They're not a reckless startup by college drop outs. Their team is very matured, they're building a product for long term and it shows in everything - the way they've grown slowly and steadily curating the community, the way over half of people in their team aren't engineers and are engaged in roles that only huge corporations float, the way they value testing and their product has no major bugs, the way they've tried to stay away from hype-cycle.
- Quora's platform is phenomenal at being meta. You find out about Quora traditions through Quora questions, you can make feature-requests to Quora team through Quora, you report bugs through Quora, you give feedback on their new features through Quora, you find out how Quora employees are having fun through Quora, you even scrutinize Quora through Quora itself. End user is very very near to Quora team.
- If I become a Quora engineer, I'd have both a name and a face. I'd work on back-end and yet sit next to end-users. End users would know what major projects I do and they'd directly complaint or compliment me. I would've an identity that'd only build up in Valley circles in time. If I were to join Google, I'd be lost in a huge sea, sitting far far away from end-users.
- Quora is a constructive product - it is creating a meaningful knowledge bank. Please understand what I'm trying to say here - Quora is creating useful content and not only manipulating the content already existing on web.
- I'm absolutely amazed at the community effort. How could such a huge and constructive community bootstrap, I wonder.
- The mechanism of asking and answering along with the credit system have been engineered in a great way. They naturally appeal to basic human instinct of ego-inflation. That is one major reason all people who know something love Quora - this is where their knowledge is valued the most.
- Ashton Kutcher answers questions at Quora, so does John Resig and Drew Houston. It is simply phenomenal to get your question answered by such people. Imagine someday Sachin Tendulkar explaining on a Quora thread, how to make a cover drive. Further, I wonder what would happen when all of our ministers come on board as well.
TL;DR : Quora is an incredibly promising startup. There I'd learn a lot at a very fast pace working with a small and talented team. I truly believe that Quora is the next big thing in internet world. Also I could make a huge amount of money through my stock if it is indeed the next big thing. Moreover, I'm simply fascinated by it.