• Preempting Others, Tiger Leads $80 Million Round in Quora

    QuoraLogoQuora, the question-and-answer platform cofounded roughly five years ago by top Facebook engineers Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, has just raised a whopping $80 million in new funding led by Tiger Global Management, the 13-year-old Park Avenue-based hedge fund. Its new valuation, reportedly: $900 million

    The deal marks the third outsize funding that Tiger has led in the last six weeks alone. In March, Tiger led a $77 million growth round in OnDeck Capital, reportedly to fuel the small business lending site’s international and product expansion plans while making it harder for other market entrants to compete. Tiger and T.Rowe Price also plugged $60 million into the online ticketing and event planning company Eventbrite at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

    Tiger and T.Rowe Price had invested a separate, $60 million in Eventbrite in just April of last year, and according to the Wall Street Journal, Eventbrite wasn’t looking to raise more money.

    Tiger’s funding of Quora — which earlier investors Peter Thiel, Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and Quora cofounder Adam D’Angelo also joined — sounds like a similar case.

    In fact, other venture firms never really had a chance, suggests Quora’s business head, Marc Bodnick, who left the private equity firm he co-founded, Elevation Partners, to join Quora in January 2011. Quora “wasn’t actually raising money,” he tells me. “In fact, we had most of the money from the last round [$50 million round, closed in 2012] in the bank. But we’d improved the company in the two years since, and Tiger approached us about investing in the company a couple of months ago.” Tiger’s 33-year-old partner, Lee Fixel, was the one to make the call.

    Quora, which has now raised roughly $140 million altogether, plans to do four things with the funding: expand Quora into other languages, à la Wikipedia; create “great mobile products” (its ever-improving email digests are one example); scale up the product technically by hiring more engineers and product managers; and put the rest in the bank. “We want to stay independent and make sure Quora lasts forever,” says Bodnick.

    Given that the company “hasn’t even started to monetize,” according to Bodnick, it might need all that cushioning.

    “Our ultimate goal is to share and grow the world’s knowledge,” he says. “In the last two years, we’ve built the biggest [online] library of first-hand knowledge, and the second-biggest [online] library after Wikipedia of general knowledge.” (It now has material on more than 500,000 topics.)

    While the company’s revenue model is “likely going to be advertising-related” — Bodnick notes that a third of Quora’s traffic is looking for something specific and that its direct intent traffic “should create exciting financial opportunities” — that won’t be the focus for a while. “Right now,” says Bodnick, “the big question is: How do we make the product better and keep scaling it?”

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