Quora raised $75M from a16z to grow Poe, its AI chat bot platform

Quora is back at it, raising funding for the first time in nearly seven years. The questions and answers website nabbed $75 million from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), which will be used to power the growth of Poe, Quora’s AI chat platform.

What makes Quora’s AI chatbots different from the rest of the pack? Quora is trying to develop its own subset of the creator economy based around AI chatbots. So, instead of a creator making a living from YouTube ad revenue, they can try to pay the bills by building interesting AI bots.

“We expect the majority of the funding to be used to pay creators of bots on the platform through our recently-launched creator monetization program,” wrote Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo in a statement.

In October, Quora launched this creator monetization program for Poe, which allows people who create bots or prompts on Poe to generate revenue. Even developers who integrate bots with the Poe AI are eligible to earn money.

Quora is betting big on creators, but this big fundraise allows the company to lure talented developers to Poe with the promise of financial compensation. Plus, Poe aggregates a wide range of text and image AI models like ChatGPT, DALL-E 3, Claude 2, Stable Diffusion, Llama and others, which gives creators a huge playground of tools to access.

When Quora last raised VC funding in 2017, the company was valued at around $1.8 billion. But Quora’s latest raise values the company at just $500 million, a steep decline from its previous raise.

“In the last two years, the market has changed substantially, driven by rising interest rates and higher cost of capital,” D’Angelo wrote. “This means our valuation is lower than our previous peak, but we are happy to finally be marked to this new market.”

Since the launch of Poe about a year ago, however, Quora is picking up some steam. D’Angelo also shared that Quora had its highest usage week ever last week, and that the platform has over 400 million monthly unique visitors.

“Excluding Poe, Quora is cash flow positive, so all of this new funding will be used on Poe,” D’Angelo said.

According to data TechCrunch viewed from Apptopia in October, Poe’s mobile app was downloaded more than 250,000 times in February, its first month open to the public. Through October, Poe saw over 18.4 million installs and grew to nearly 1.22 million monthly active users.

“Already, Poe shows signs of increasing returns to scale,” wrote a16z partner David George in a blog post. “Currently, Poe is one of the top 5 largest generative AI-related properties, and creators have built 1M+ bots on Poe the platform.”