What happens when you have a great knowledge-sharing site, where people can freely ask questions and other people are willing to answer them?
Let me ask again, what if you have “pioneered a unique web service that offers its members fast, qualified answers to questions … from a network of qualified technology experts”? And not just that, you also have a “patented knowledge-sharing process, combined with the advantages of the Internet”? And if it’s not enough, let’s imagine for a moment that you “received a $5 million first round investment commitment from <drum-roll> J.P. Morgan Capital“?
The company is 14 years old now. It’s an eternity by the internet standards. The site was once the largest network of qualified technology experts, or so they claim. What lessons can we learn from its fate?
First, a few observations:
1. Is its traffic going up or down?
2. How does it compare to competition?
3. Was there an IPO or sale to a strategic investor?
I couldn’t find any traces of it in the internet. OK, this is certainly not a hard fact, and if you send me a link about the event, I’ll update the post accordingly.
What can we learn? Perhaps, that Q & A sites are too easy to build (say hi to StackExchange!). That the competition in the area is too fierce. That even patented IP and “smart money” from the investors won’t let you scale the business enough. You may be the leader one day, and a new kid on the block leaves you biting the dust the next day.
Update: despite struggling traffic, Experts Exchange is running well, apparently with enough revenue to support itself. See comments to this post for more details.