Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Question: How Many Q&A Services Does the Web Need?

You can see why an ambitious engineer or venture capitalist would be interested in a Q&A service: They’re very hot right now!

Old fogies like Yahoo (YHOO) and have been at this for a while. But in the past 12 months or so, everyone wants in.

Google (GOOG) bought Aardvark earlier this year, and Facebook is working on its own flavor of so-called “social search” (which means that human beings ask questions, and other human beings answer them). Start-up-of-the-moment Quora was supposedly valued at $86 million before it ever opened its doors. Etc.

Okay. But why is adding a questions feature to its offering?

Easy: Because it’s tried everything else, and there’s no reason not to. IAC’s (IACI) search unit has had less than five percent of the domestic market for a very long time, even though it has gone through multiple CEOs, tech overhauls and branding campaigns.

Don’t want to be reflexively negative here (really!). So best to say that if this gambit moves the needle, it will be a pleasant surprise.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work