One of the biggest phenomena of last year was Formspring, a social site that lets you invite your friends to “Ask you anything”. The site launched in November 2009 and rose from obscurity to some 40 million monthly uniques at its peak (it’s currently at around 22.2 million monthly uniques according to Quantcast).
Today, the company is announcing a $11.5 million funding round led by Redpoint Ventures (Geoff Yang) with participation from Baseline Ventures (Steve Anderson). This confirms a report from November when GigaOm reported that the site had raised $10 million (obviously they added a bit more to the round since then). In addition to today’s funding, Formspring is also announcing a new feature: the ‘Respond Button’.
The feature lets publishers integrate some Q&A functionality into their own sites. Hit one of these ‘Respond’ buttons, which generally appear next to Twitter and Facebook ‘Like’ widgets on publisher sites, and a window will pop up prompting you to answer a question related to the article (the question could be vague like “What do you think”, or it can be more specific). Once the user submits the form, their answer appears on their Formspring profile along with a link to the publisher site. This doesn’t seem to have the same viral potential as, say, a tweet, though you can tweet out your response automatically.
One thing I don’t really like: there’s apparently no way to see all of the responses that other users have submitted using the Respond button (i.e. you can’t see everyone’s reaction to a given article). I’m also not sure why users wouldn’t rather leave their comment on the article and also syndicate that to their Formspring profile, as opposed to putting it on their Formspring profile alone.
Formspring’s traffic has dipped since last spring, but it seems to have stabilized at around 22 million uniques per month, which still puts it as the 157th biggest site in the US according to Quantcast. The site is also about to hit a big milestone: users have submitted 2 billion responses (and the site sees 10 million per day).