Question-and-answer site Quora is staking a strong claim for independence today with an $80 million Series C funding round that will act as a form of insurance for the service as it scales up and prepares to expand internationally.
The infusion of capital is intended to help Quora avoid the fate of high-profile startups, such as WhatsApp and Oculus VR, that have been acquired in spite of their expressed desire to remain independent.
Tiger Global led the round, with existing investors Benchmark, Matrix, Northbridge and Peter Thiel joining in. Quora raised a $40 million Series B in May 2012 with a reported valuation of $400 million.
Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo has noted on the site that most of the money from the company’s last raise is still in the bank, so it clearly didn’t have a pressing need for the extra cash. The firm says it will use the fund for four purposes.
“The most important thing is it lets us live forever, or lets us achieve that goal of permanence and independence,” Quora executive Marc Bodnick told TNW.
The company now boasts the second largest repository of knowledge on the Internet, behind Wikipedia. While Quora is very clearly here to stay, the company’s value of remaining independent means that extra capital is needed to ensure that any economic downturns or monetization troubles don’t force it to sell to a larger player like Google or Facebook.
The second purpose for the money is to focus on improving Quora’s product. As D’angelo notes in a separate Quora post:
We have a lot in the pipeline, but two small highlights include tools for people to find their own content, and some improvements to notifications.
Quora is only available in English, but the firm’s new bankroll will accelerate its plans to expand into other languages. However, D’angelo was careful to note that localization won’t happen right away, as the company still has plenty of work to do on the English version.
The final purpose of the funding round is to finance Quora’s infrastructure as it continues to scale. Bodnick said that the majority of that will go toward Amazon’s EC2 bills as the site grows.
Quora will need to become cash flow positive to really secure an independent future, but this latest round gives it an extended runway that should have more than enough room.
There’s been talk recently about the “magic number” for startups that will convince them to sell, so I asked Bodnick how committed Quora was to staying independent.
“We’re 100% committed,” he said. “We just don’t believe that you can achieve the mission we’re going after as part of another company.”
That’s a bold claim to make, but seeing as Quora just added $80 million to its cash hoard, the odds of long-term independence seem pretty good right now.
Image credit: Jonas M Luster / Flickr