Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Q: How Much Did Formspring Just Raise? A: $11M.

The return of anonymity on the Internet was all the rage in 2010. But as some shooting stars like Chatroulette falter, Formspring is working to evolve its anonymous Q&A service into something more lasting and useful.

Not to say Formspring is making a business out of Web Q&A–yet. But Wednesday it is announcing a Series A round of $11.5 million led by Redpoint Partners. And it’s also releasing a self-service product called “the Respond button” that allows publishers to solicit responses to their content through a simple integration with Formspring’s API.

The Series A round, which also included Baseline Ventures and others, comes on the heels of Formspring raising $2.5 million from a large group of angels and Polaris Ventures last March. That prompted the company to move its headquarters to San Francisco from Indianapolis, where it had spun out of online form provider FormStack.

Of all the various Q&A startups, Formspring’s product is probably the closest to personal blogging. A user signs up for an account and then visitors can ask her questions, usually about herself.

$14 million is a ton of money, especially for a site that’s only a year old with no revenue. But Formspring CEO Ade Olonoh said the company now has 20 million registered users and 10 million daily answers to questions from its community, something he contended takes a lot of infrastructure and additional developers to support.

The new Respond button product will be free to publishers, but it will require users to log into a Formspring account to participate. Launch partners include the Huffington Post and AskMen (pictured).

Previously, Formspring questions existed in a world unto themselves of mostly casual conversations about users’ favorite movies and the like. Olonoh described the Respond button as a paradigm shift because it will introduce topic prompts from outside content.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik