The drive for more information has long been fueling the growth of the Internet, but that rising tide is not automatically lifting all boats, as one company trying to ride the wave has seen.
Beepl, a Q&A startup co-founded last year and led by ex-TechCrunch writer Steve O’Hear, has now lost him as CEO over what TechCrunch understands to be a dispute around future strategy. O’Hear confirmed his departure to TechCrunch and says that he remains a minority shareholder and director — although given his departure as CEO he may be leaving that role soon, too.
It is not clear yet who is permanently replacing O’Hear as the CEO, but we have heard that the move comes at the same time that Beepl is pushing out a new release of its site and gearing up for a mobile app launch.
Beepl has so far had $400,000 in seed funding from Prague-based VC firm Credo Ventures and has people working in London as well Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The startup came out of stealth mode in January to a decent amount of press coverage, promoting its service as a kind of Quora-meets-Klout proposition: you ask questions, and they get answered by experts or “influencers” in the relevant field using some algorithms created by Beepl to connect those questions to the right people.
The company even came up with a nice and simple hashtag, #ask, to push questions to Beepl from Twitter and other social sites. Those could have been the beginnings of a good growth plan — if there is growth to be found in Q&A.
But TechCrunch understands that O’Hear and Beepl’s CTO, Jan Paricka, did not see eye-to-eye on how the product should develop longer-term. Paricka is still with the company and, we understand, is now effectively running things. Ondrej Bartos from Credo Ventures remains a non-executive director.
The upcoming mobile app, meanwhile, is not yet live, and it’s not yet clear what form it will take (iOS, Android, web app?). Even with dozens of Q&A apps already out there — they include Ask.com, ChaCha, Thumb and, yes, Quora — it’s the right direction to target people who might be anywhere, not just at their PC, needing some information.