Photo: Ludovic Toinel
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a little obsessed with Quora, the questions-and-answers site started by his high school pal (and former Facebook CTO) Adam D’Angelo.Zuckerberg brings it up in random places, such as his interview with TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington this week about Facebook’s phone project, where he says something a little too nice about Quora’s social integration.
And Zuckerberg is also trying to kill Quora, or at least marginalize it, with Facebook’s own Q&A product, which still isn’t as good as Quora.
Here’s the truth, though: Even though it comes across as vindictive and anti-competitive, Zuckerberg probably should be trying to knock Quora down before it catches much steam.
Not because Q&A is necessarily the next huge product for Facebook. And not because Mark necessarily feels the need to punish D’Angelo for leaving Facebook to start something on his own. (Though we’ve heard all the gossip that this is very much a personal attack.)
If Facebook has any reason to squash Quora, it’s because Quora — and other ex-Facebook spinoffs, such as Asana — threaten Facebook where it matters most: In Facebook’s ability to continue to recruit the very best engineering talent in Silicon Valley.
Quora is hot. Valley-types we talk to drool over it.
And D’Angelo and his co-founder Charlie Cheever — another former Facebook exec — have stocked their roster with top talent. Several of Quora’s employees left Facebook to join the startup. Others left other top companies. Many are from Stanford.
These are the types of people that Facebook needs to be able to hire and retain, and now there’s real competition. That makes it harder and more expensive for Facebook to hire the best talent, if they can even close the deals. Facebook finds itself having to buy companies — such as Hot Potato, recently — to hire some people.
That’s why Quora is such a threat to Facebook. And that’s why Facebook is investing resources in crushing it.
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