Andrew Chen, Advisor at Quibb

Andrew Chen shared:
Quibb = Invite Only, Forever?


Read what Andrew Chen is reading for work

Quibb lets you share what you're reading for work. Use Quibb to share news about your industry, discuss what matters, and see what colleagues are reading.

Our mission is to connect professionals over business news and informed commentary — targeting every industry, profession, and geography.

Quibb was launched in 2013 and is based in San Francisco, California.

Apply with Twitter or Google


Likes Comments
HubSpot, Coelevate

I agree with everything you said. I think curation (especially within professionals) leads to higher quality and thus engagement. I think having engagement among high quality users will ultimately be of higher value as a business vs a larger group of lower engaged users. Stay strong, stay the course on curated community....it will pay off down the road!

CEO, Co-Founder & Product at Blossom

Also from an options-perspective everyone who is locked out right now can still be let in later. #gametheory

Eventually it probably will make sense to either cap (anyone knows examples?) or shard (reddit, …) or something similar: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?CommunityLifeCycle

Lead Analyst at HootSuite

On a similar economic modelling tip, if you assume that this is a relatively frictionless model (which is kinda wrong but still way less frictions than any real-life physical communities), almost anyone who would ne a good fit for the Quibb community will eventually be invited :)

The costs of adding 1,000 "lower quality" users vastly outweighs the benefits of having 2 or 3 more "high quality" users by opening up the floodgates.

So you know my vote :)

Reply · Tweet ·
Founder at Duxter

I've said this to Sandi before, but I'll reiterate here. Very selfishly I would love Quibb to stay invite-only forever.

Sandi asked me to post my pitch/invite code for Quibb on my biz school linkedin group. My first reaction (Sandi could quote me) "I don't want most of those idiots on Quibb." I instead hand selected the 3-5 I thought might actually make solid contributions.

Product Marketing at Dropbox

Haha this is actually exactly what I did when Sandi MacPherson reached out with the same request. Instead of emailing listserves en masse I brainstormed a list of 10-12 people and also recommended some people to follow to get them started.

Lead Analyst at HootSuite

Haha, ditto.

Reply · Tweet ·
Director of Marketing at Playerize

Same here, in fact I was hesitant to share within my own team. On the other hand, there are people I PESTER to join.

Reply · Tweet ·
Co-Founder & CEO at edshelf

It's a neat feeling to be able to say to someone, "Here's a high-value community you need to join. It's invite-only though, but I can get you in." Just sayin' :-)

And, of course, there's subtle social pressure for me to curate who I invite, because I don't want to be known as "the guy who brought in all these dead-beats and ruined the community", goodness no.

The trick comes in expanding beyond the startup/business/marketing vertical though. If a high-value community of, say, tech-savvy farmers is a desired target, I don't know if the current team knows how and who to accept into the community (no knock on Sandi, of course). A moderator could be chosen to lead that vertical, but how do you maintain quality when you have to choose your 100th moderator for your 100th vertical?

Also, how would potential criticisms of elitism play into the brand of Quibb? Would it be good press? Inspire competitors? Discourage potentially great community members?

Advisor at Quibb

Haha. The funny thing is that Quibb isn't even invite-only. Because even if someone is invited, their membership applications are still reviewed manually and it doesn't mean that they get into the site. I don't even know what that's called? Members only?

But yeah, the current criteria for accepting users is great schooling or work experience. I know it's a lot tougher to know what the best schools in other disciplines (for example art schools?) or in other countries (I know IIT is good in India, but is IIM the same level?). If the idea is to stick to what we know, then I think for the time being Quibb will consist of top 500 traditional universities plus Fortune 500 (or 1000?) companies, and investor-backed startups. That might exclude the tech-savvy farmers, unless they were previously at Cornell and Conagra, but maybe that's OK :)

Anyway, the whole goal of this isn't to exclude people, but rather curation of a community. So in that way, I don't think the root is elitism- it's just a focus on great user experience derived from the understanding that social product design isn't just about features.

Dorm Room Fund, Lean Food Startup

Would you consider someone with none of those things but a top 5% Klout score, a popular, or something else along those lines?

Advisor at Quibb

My personal opinion (not speaking for Sandi) is that the Klout score or having a big following isn't enough. It matters *why* you have the high Klout score, and if it comes from having a compelling professional/academic background. So for example, there are nightclub promoters with a ton of followers and a high Klout score, but I don't think that would clear my bar.

Reply · Tweet ·
Jacanda Capital

Firstly, I fully agree on the curated community concept. But how to make it scale on a global basis to get appropriate regional input (if that is desired)? Can/should there also be an element of leveraging Quibb users' knowledge, experience and trusted international networks to ensure deeper global perspectives are coming into the site to both contribute and learn? This may help solve the challenge of acceptance criteria for people who may be outside of the current scope of knowledge for the 'great schooling or work experience'? e.g. I am an Australian who lived in Japan for ten years so can provide a fairly good perspective on both of those places. Kind of like Wikipedia community editing but for approvals. Maybe this is already in place at Quibb?? If not feel free to hit me if you ever want help. :)

Startup Edition, Product Hunt

I've heard negative comments from a non-Quibb member about it being an elitist community. IMHO, this statement is a good example of cognitive dissonance. :)

Reply · Tweet ·
Advisor at MessageMe

so does this mean that quibb is not an elitist community?

Reply · Tweet ·
Independent

I totally agree with keeping the community curated but I also agree with opening it up beyond startup/business/marketing verticals.

The articles in this space are interesting and clearly relevant, but I personally strive to read material from outside of the industry because I find it helps me think more creatively about problems when I bring in approaches and thought processes from completely unrelated fields.

So, while Quibb is great, it doesn't yet meet all my informative reading needs, but hopefully someday it will!

Reply · Tweet ·
CEO & trust builder at Primeloop

Permanent invite-only is a very interesting strategy. But, I do believe it is simply a strategy. Andrew Chen, how would you describe the goal? Is it because of an assumption that this community values exclusivity? Or, is it because of an assumption that invitations are the only way to keep the quality of conversations up? Or is it because of an assumption that opening things up could damage the foundation already created by existing users? Or is it because of an assumption that the future of quality networking is built on niche curated membership content?

Reply · Tweet ·
Customer Happiness at Wistia, Inc.

Hi Thomas Knoll, I'm not sure what you mean when you say "it is simply a strategy". I don't know what Andrew Chen or Sandi MacPherson have as an ultimate goal, but as a Quibb user, I'm interested in having a curated feed of content/conversations AND a high quality conversation thread AND a relatively small group, so that the focus of the conversations isn't splintered into hundreds or thousands of tiny threads (see Quora). But that might just be me ;)

From the end-user perspective, I fail to see any downside from the invite-only model. As long as those doing the inviting (and follow-up manual review) value diverse opinions and new perspectives (a big 'if', but valuable to the long-term Quibb experience regardless of growth structure), the conversations will remain relevant and interesting.

CEO & trust builder at Primeloop

I'm super excited about all of those things as well! I was just pointing out that "staying invite-only" is a specific strategy towards a bigger goal, not a goal in-and-of-itself. And, as a way of participating in Andrew's "thought experiment", I was hoping to dig a little deeper into perceived goals for this strategy. (There might be some other strategies worth pursuing to achieve that actual goals.)

Customer Happiness at Wistia, Inc.

Makes perfect sense, thanks for elaborating!

Reply · Tweet ·
Advisor at Quibb

I don't think of it as a marketing strategy, actually. I really think of it more as a product design choice, more than anything else. If the community were exclusive, but to people I don't find particularly interesting, I wouldn't find that inherently a win. Instead, the key is to focus on careful curation of a membership, and to focus on that as the central goal, and I think having a membership-only model is derived from that. Contrast that from the folks who are doing invite-only with the goal of marketing buzz, and then deriving invite-only from that goal. I think it's coming from a different place.

Reply · Tweet ·
CEO & trust builder at Primeloop

Totally makes sense. So, it sounds like you view "a curated membership" itself as a core goal of the quibb product/experience?

That is definitely interesting. I still harbor hopes for a product which features can transcend the curated membership, and still generate a great learning and sharing experience.

Reply · Tweet ·
Head of CX at Holler

I also think it would be a v good thing Andrew.

Quibb has very quickly been eating into Twitter's hold on my attention span. The reason? Quality and focus. I think Quibb is like the antithesis of 'network effects'. As the network effect gets larger (Twitter), the quality of thinking and focus gets diluted - I think we can all attest to this happening.

At the same time how does Quibb monetise such a small audience if it doesn't reach crazy growth? If Quibb's focus is not going to be volume it needs to have a high yield out of each user.

The question then becomes - how much would I pay for Quibb? Unfortunately the answer for me would be $10-$20 p/m max.

However, if you asked me how much I would pay to access some of Quibb's members/minds that price goes up a fair bit. Quibb's got an incredible line of of people that are engaged I'm very interested to see how Sandi leverages it to evolve the community into a business.

Partner at USV

fwiw I don't agree this this statement (ymmv): "As the network effect gets larger (Twitter), the quality of thinking and focus gets diluted - I think we can all attest to this happening."

Head of CX at Holler

That's fair, the statement is based on my experience, several discussions I've had w/ people & posts I've read agreeing that Twitter has required increasing sifting work to get to quality as it's gotten bigger.

The only professional discussion community that's maintained focus & quality through scale that I can think of is Stack Overflow and that team is militant at managing their UGC.

I'd be interested in other examples you've seen where a growing community maintains focus/quality.

Co-Founder at speakme

"quality" might be the wrong word, but the idea of twitter being more diluted is a valid one. Even with customized lists, twitter is an all-encompassing experience. The nice thing about Quibb is that it's more directed and comprised of those with interests/expertise in a certain area. I enjoy it for the same reason I don't try to have a conversation with all of my friends at once about a certain topic, just the few who are interested.

Curation makes Quibb. Quibb is pretty much the 'dating' site that cannot afford to be overrun by stalkers. I believe though that curation should always scale as the community grows.

In case of Quibb, scaling curation is not just the ability to handle a greater inflow of applications, it is also the ability to scale gatekeeper judgment.

Hence, I propose that Quibb remain invite-only forever but that the gatekeeping scale over time, much as the super-users did with Wikipedia. Have a gatekeeper for important regions globally who determine notions of quality for local markets (which local startups/companies are good, what credentials make sense etc.) It will still not be error-free but will scale better. Additionally, have gatekeepers for categories if Quibb plans to scale beyond tech. Quora, in its early days itself, scaled very well into the film-making community and into the pure sciences community, while retaining high signal.

TL;DR: Invite-only but scale gate-keeping over time.

Dorm Room Fund, Lean Food Startup

Your point about bridging into other categories outside tech is interesting. There's a lot of value in a focused community; you see higher-quality postings and conversations. On the other hand, we all benefit from the right kind of content-diversity. It broadens our minds and makes us better at our jobs. I'm curious to hear how everyone else thinks about this issue. Should Quibb remain tech focused (with content-diversity coming from community members sharing interests outside of tech) or should it expand to other verticals?

Reply · Tweet ·

This is partly tongue-in-cheek, but how about increasing the elitism? Specifically, I'm thinking of trial periods in addition to the curation. Evaluate new members by the quality of their sharing activity (views, likes, etc.), and if they're not adding value, just lurking, after a specific period of time...they get a polite but firm deactivation email, maybe from Andrew Chen ? ;-)

Director of Marketing at Playerize

I actually like this idea, simply because it'd curate my "followed" list and make me trust it more. Sure there's nothing painful about having an inactive follow in that list, but in a community in which I inherently seek the active, thoughtful members...my 'followed' list matter more to me. That could be a reaction to the Twitter experience, in which I've had to unfollow everyone and start over more than once as the site grew, just to get a valuable experience.

Reply · Tweet ·
Hult International Business School, Various Startups

I've been thinking a lot about this as well. I have an unpublished post sitting in a draft folder on Quibb's future scaling challenges, but my thinking keeps shifting about what Quibb wants to be.

Currently, I think the best comparison to a scaled Quibb would be Twitter. I only see articles when they've been shared by people I choose to follow, so lower-quality admissions wouldn't have any impact on my user experience. High quality curation is already built in to the following mechanism, as long as I exercise good judgement about who to follow.

Which is to say I don't think that smallness or membership approval are inherent requirements for maintaining product quality. BUT, Quibb's current smallness does keep the links in my feed focused on certain kinds of topics, which decreases the amount of noise in my feed. As an example, my Twitter feed is a mix of tweets on a few mostly-non-overlapping areas of interest (macroeconomics, radical politics, startups, cinema). If I invited, say, Felix Salmon to join Quibb, and he and I both started sharing posts about interest rates and stimulus multipliers, then most of my startup-centric audience would have an increasing ratio of noise in their feeds. I have this problem on Twitter: my own tweets mix engagement in all of these circles. Following me on Twitter is not well targeted to any one audience, and is basically a poor experience unless a) you share many of my interests; or b) you don't mind a low signal-to-noise ratio in my tweets.

I think this is the biggest challenge to Quibb, scaling wise -- the expansion into multiple communities of interest. Though perhaps, in a version of the Pinterest model, links could be posted to boards set up by topic, so you can just follow my Startup links. But I don't think the invitation mechanism is the real determining factor of Quibb quality.

Advisor at Quibb

Wonderful comment. Great point that it can be easy to get diluted, even with a follow-based graph. I disagree with you that having a follow model solves the community issues. While it's true that my Twitter feed is a curated experience, at the same time all the people that try and talk to me using @mentions generally tweet very low-value content at me ;) So it's nice to be somewhere that almost all the content is useful/interesting.

Hult International Business School, Various Startups

Thanks Andrew. Your comment clarifies that you and I are using Quibb in different ways right now. The approval model makes perfect sense if you are focused on the conversation and community (high quality @mentions). But as a content delivery service, where I am outsourcing my reading decisions to influencers, this isn't the case. So the question is whether Quibb should be optimizing for participation/community, or for information flow. That really is (as Thomas Knoll pointed out) a strategic question about long-term goals.

Director of Marketing at Playerize

Thank you for this comment; I've been saying for a while that the Pinterest follow model is what makes the most sense to me when it comes to content, but Pinterest isn't the kind of content I want. I think it was a fatal product decision for Google+ to choose the reverse Pinterest model, in which anyone can choose which stream of theirs I am following (put me in a Circle). Were it the other way around I think I'd use it frequently. I'd truly love to see Quibb go this route.

Founder at Soulmix

I've been interested in the Pinterest model of curating items you like into board or collections. imgfav does this also. It is a great way of bringing together content discovery, curation, and personal bookmarking/organization for a particular vertical.

I wonder how it will work for content-related communities (both Pinterest and imgfav are mainly for images), and have started experimenting with this idea with Soulmix collections (http://www.soulmix.com/alexshye/collections). So far, I like it a lot.

Head of Data & Analytics at Bedrocket Media Ventures

I agree. What's even better than Quibb's ability to deliver curated reads are the concise insights that accompany links. If Quibb opens up to everyone I fear the commentary will lose some of its oomph the same way many open Google+ or LinkedIn groups devolve into spammish self-promotion fests. I want to hear what the game changers are thinking and I agree with @Vlad Ivanovic, the value is in the ability to access the best minds.

Valuing Quibb with total members or MAUs feels like quantifying a site with page views. It's the easiest way to "measure" value but it's probably not the right way. I'm curious, what are your KPIs for Quibb?

Co-Founder at Spinnakr

So there are some good thoughts here regarding curation, but I find the more interesting question to be how to scale the invitation / application process. Invitations, as a screen mechanism, are pretty simplistic. This sort of trusted referral is a longstanding and well understood source of social signaling and it is accordingly very powerful, but not particularly accurate. Andrew Eisner mentions a probationary period, but let me - if only to stimulate some thoughts on this - moot something else:

Quibb should allow access to the daily newsletter to anyone. This could be a standard version of the newsletter with top posts from across Quibb, or it could be personalized based on reading habits and/or social authentication. These external users could still comment on articles that are posted to the newsletter. A few possible consequences:

<strong>1. Better Application / Curation</strong>
You can use a public reader's engagement and comments to better inform membership approval. This give you the effect of a probationary period, but without the weird stigma of inviting someone in and then potentially kicking them out. No better way to predict whether someone will be a good member of the community than seeing them in action on it.

<strong>2. Increased Reach for Quibb and Quibb Members</strong>
By opening up the newsletter, you have a way to get a wider audience involved while still protecting the core community. This has lots of different advantages, just in terms of growing Quibb's profile and reach.

<strong>3. Increased value to Quibb Members</strong>
Now that Quibb member's activity has a much larger audience, there is greater value to being a member, making applicants more motivated to engage and prove their contributions - a positive feedback loop. Not only is there additional value in being a member, but there is additional return to providing high quality links and comments, since you can showcase this to a wider audience. This may improve the prospect of meaningful monetization via member supporters.

<strong>4. More Users</strong>
Regardless of specifics, having a long list of email addresses is more valuable than a short list. Increasing the size of Quibb's community increases overall business optionality in the short and long term.

In general, I think the plays to Quibb's strengths, by opening up access to the community's most valuable product - the newsletter - while also increasing the value of membership in addition to encouraging engagement from both members and non-members.

Variants:
- Comments from public users may or may not be visible to Quibb members. Or maybe they're rolled out slowly and shown to more people if they're rated highly. Possibly the membership approval process is not discrete, but gradual, like StackOverflow.
- You still need an invitation to get the newsletter, but newsletter access is automatic upon invitation while membership, as is the status quo, is not.

Startup Edition, Product Hunt

I really really like this idea, Michael but my biggest hesitation is whether non-members would be interested in the newsletter. Easy enough to test with non-accepted users though. cc Sandi MacPherson

Advisor at Quibb

Good idea re: applicants getting the newsletter even if they can't actively contribute. They'd still need a UI to follow and so on though, but maybe they couldn't comment or post links. Interesting idea. That would roughly 2x the # of clicks that Quibb delivers to blog articles, which is probably a good thing. If it were 10x though, then it'd be a no-brainer :)

Enterprise Account Executive at Brave New Talent

I really like the idea in concept of a tiered membership. My reservation with a newsletter is sites and apps like Quibb are partly born out of the frustration of email overload, newsletters, etc. I know personally I have signed up to a number of sites with curated content and rarely if ever read the newsletters. I am far more interested in the comments and discussions that go along with an article than the article itself. Take this post for example, a pretty basic question on the surface which has spawned a slew of great, thought provoking responses.

Just my 2 cents, keep the conversation going!

Reply · Tweet ·

I like it: this is a way to increase the signaling (e.g. likes, comments, etc.) without diluting the core content that's being shared.

Reply · Tweet ·
Co-Founder & CEO at edshelf

No HTML allowed in the comments, eh? How about **Markdown** for the geeks like us who want to *stylized* content, Quibb team? ;-)

Director of Marketing at Playerize

Quibb team:) Haha!

Research Engineer at Hewlett Packard Labs

yeah, I agree. *Quality* people can be trusted to give *quality* comments ;)

Director of Marketing at Playerize

Love this idea. In terms of the way it'd work for expanded interest niches, I could see myself subscribing to topic areas I have zero authority on, but a keen interest.

Reply · Tweet ·
Co-Founder at Estimote

No doubt, it's likely contributing to the quality feel of the site right now.

It would be interesting to measure how quality decays in relation to lower quality members on different networks. Anecdotally Twitter's network quality increases even with low quality members but it's a microblogging service, and retweets & mentions are beneficial for high quality users because they infer clout and social stature, and lower quality users need to build a reputation so they become the power user’s new followers – it feeds on itself.

Or consider Quora – would limiting access make it better for the people inside the network? Tough to say. They seemed to be much better in the beginning when it was still early tech adopters, which is kind of like what you are curating.

Good luck and like the non-conformist stance.

Reply · Tweet ·
Co-Founder & CEO at Built In Menlo

I normally dislike invite only techniques unless the product isn't ready for prime time (scaling, performance issues, additional user testing, etc). I also dislike asking colleagues for invites to new products and or seeing them offer invites via social channels. "Hey I have 5 invites for x-product, who wants one?". This just rubs me the wrong way and cheapens the product upfront.

Idea… Maybe there can be some sort of reputation system that allowed quality members to invite and or approve colleagues at will. That way users who have contributed and been beneficial to the network handle the process. You can even flip the UX and let anyone sign up, but they must get a member to vet them in. For example, once they provide a company email address that already has a presence on Quibb, you can offer them an array of quality members from their organization they can request approval from (moving away from the manual process). I can see this being interesting for new members that find their manager using Quibb and would love the opportunity to join. I could also see a flow where if the user did not have anyone to vet them or their email address didn't return any quality results, they could provided additional credentials such as LinkedIn and be funneled into some sort of mechanical turk approval process.

Members only jackets are never cool, but neither are invite only hacks. There has to be something in between that doesn't slow down adoption but doesn't kill the quality of the network.

Reply · Tweet ·
Product Designer at Facebook

I dig that it's invite only. Quibb has a high signal to noise ratio compared to other products I use to consume news, it seems the curated community is built in quality control.

Head - Product & Technology at Nivalink

Just chiming in to what most of the users have already said: There are reasons why Quibb has been able to be so pure in terms of content and one of biggest among them is people curation. Taking that away from Quibb is like taking away its Most Valuable Feature.

Partner at USV

I'd like to see it opened up, because I believe philosophically that openness leads to more interestingness, at the same time is presents organizational complexity.

I've also seen this debate played out in community after community, it's not an easy one. But I also do believe this isn't a "quality" issue but a product issue. If one aspires, the product can scale to increase the interestingness to people as it grows.

Btw, one of the ways (I'm *told*) that certain music sharing sites used to deal with this back in the day was that the community had a give/take dynamic. For example, you could only download files in the aggregated equal in size to what you upload. You also only got invites based on your active participation (eg, 1 invite each 1gig you uploaded). Some of those communities were remarkably efficient.

Interesting! Perhaps something that could be implemented with a virtual economy. I think Quora wants to go there with Credits at some point but there are too many contributors to earning and using credits for the exchange to be meaningful.

Co-Founder & CEO at edshelf

I like the give/take entrance fee. I think I saw something similar on BestVendor. It's a neat way to present a barrier to entry (to keep out the window shoppers) and grow content. If Quibb's goal is to get more content (i.e. links, comments, likes, etc), this could be an interesting strategy.

Thanks for asking me to comment on this. There are two forces here, the "invite only" effect and the "country club" effect. The invite-only effect will not limit the product's growth (meaning total members) but will reduce the *rate* of the product growth. For this kind of product that is a good thing. If you throw open the gates, you would get a higher initial rate of growth, but the value of the experience would quickly diminish, and the value to visitors would drop off, and then there would be no community developed. Think of the free-liquor house party you advertise to the world on craigslist and Facebook. Keeping the site invite-only will result in ultimately a higher community population, as well as one that reaches a kind of self-regulating equilibrium. If you think about it, since anyone can invite multiple people, an invite-only site could still result in the entire online population being invited to join at some point--if there weren't also the application review process.

The country club effect is controlled by the application review process. Here the appeal is definitely to elitism and a sense of social superiority since the approval is not merit-based nor based on ability to contribute to the community, but based on social status indicators such as college attended and employer. This process creates a value to the people who feel good from a sense of self-importance from being picked, so it is an effective way to create value out of thin air. The risk is that by selecting for a non-diverse community, a self-reinforcing echo chamber is created, which is less stable in the long run versus a diverse community. Also, selecting for a group through elitist criteria ("top 500 traditional universities plus Fortune 500 (or 1000?) companies, and investor-backed startups.") does create a valuable network to its members, at the expense of the people outside that elitist group, unlike groups which allow self-selection through merit. So that is another source of value being created. The assumption is that by having any kind of "like-mindedness" filtering process, you can create instant value--by restricting what would be perceived as noise by people in the selected-for group, even if that content were in fact valuable to someone in the out group.

However the issue with community-based value creation is that it is hard to monetize. Why? Capturing value that is created from and for a community is generally accepted as legitimate only in the non-profit arena. That is why churches, and schools and unions and trade organizations and community aid organizations and charities are 501c organizations. A private entity taking the value created by the community is generally seen as an problem. Wikipedia. That is why communities on the web have always been hard to monetize at scale, going all the way back to the beginning with bbs and fora. Allowing advertising is the default way to attempt to monetize communities or at least cover costs, but it is a trade-off, meaning that advertising is transactional and directly diminishes the value of the community experience, thus damaging the relationship with the community members, so there is a constant balancing act to figure out how much advertising is too much, what is the right kind, etc.

There is only one business model that I can think of that a community-based site like Quibb can use to create revenue without subtracting from the user experience, that is seen as being an appropriate way to individually profit from the community, and that instead of being detrimental to the user experience actually enhances the relationship and creates a deeper bond with the community members… I can talk more about that in another comment, but right now it's back to work for me! Apologies for any typos etc.

Advisor at Quibb

Some very interesting points in this comment. One analogy that I've used for building up the Quibb community is that we're putting every member through a "job interview" albeit a light one, by looking at their backgrounds. Ideally their past experience at interesting companies or good schools means that they are smart, get along with others, etc. However using career/education to interview people is as imprecise on Quibb as it is in the real world. That is, it's very imperfect :) but hopefully it's generating more false negatives than false positives.

Re: communities being bad businesses in general, who knows. I think if Quibb ultimately addressed the top 10% of the linkedin audience, that's still 10s of millions of users, and could be a great business in many ways. Churches, unions, etc are confined to a small geography that doesn't scale. I think Q could be different.

Wonderful thoughts and thanks for commenting.

Seed Investor at Scout Ventures

Kinda wonky but some relevant stuff from Andrei Hagiu on this topic if you're into it (2011): http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6748.html
PDF here: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/11-125.pdf

Partner at USV

but what does the "top 10%" even mean?

Advisor at Quibb

Perhaps this is more precise but only leads to more questions, but I think there's a commonly defined notion of top schools and top companies, and publications who publish lists of those every year. So I think you could objectively say, yes, this person worked at a fortune 1000 or yes, this person went to a top 500 school. Whether or not its predictive of anything, that's an eternal argument :)

So to be clear, I think the filter you used to generate a set of users has provably worked, and it doesn't need to be "perfect."

But the job interview metaphor won't scale, since 1.) it implies that you are looking for people to do a job for you, and 2.) it requires someone to do the interview. What will scale in creating a community is what I call "mission-based recruiting." If you create a network of elitism and exclusion it has value, but then everybody wants to get in to get at it, and it creates the overhead of keeping people out, since many people will want to join without contributing just to extract value from being in the network, or using its resources. But if you articulate a mission, people will self-select, particularly if there is the expectation of contribution on some dimension (there can be various ways to contribute).

When I first saw Quibb, it made me think of Quora but with much less comments, which I took as a positive, and there weren't any "how much would it cost to build a prison on the moon" questions. Quibb's mission is "Quibb lets you share what you're reading for work. Use Quibb to post newsworthy articles, see what colleagues are reading, and discuss the day's industry news.
Our goal is to reinvent business news and build a modern version of The Wall Street Journal, personalized by industry and professional community." News is not a great mission. Curation is more interesting. Business information is even more interesting. The marginal cost of news is zero, and when the cost goes to zero, the price goes to zero. "Discussing the day's industry news" is really close to water cooler discussions which is really close to infotainment, and infotainment is a hyper-commodity now, like tribbles.

My point was not that communities are bad business, they are great businesses, but by their nature most of them are nonprofit businesses. You have aggregated a community, but you need to convert them into clients to monetize the effort. You convert them into clients by doing something more to help them--creating a product or service that adds value to them, but it requires doing something beyond having created the community or improving the features that created the community.

Saying 10% of LinkedIn is just handwaving. That is made up. However, if you can articulate who the Quibb community member is, and then map that to the LinkedIn population demographics, you will get a real number of real people that you can actually serve. It might be more or less than 10% but it will be a provable addressable audience.

I don't understand "Churches, unions, etc are confined to a small geography that doesn't scale." If I think of a church, the Catholic Church has scaled, and when I think of a union, I think the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has scaled geographically. Anyway,I don't think that has anything to do with Quibb's scaling.

If you want to go offline, I would be happy to email you what I think Quibb should do to monetize the community without alienating it as I mentioned in my previous comment.

Reply · Tweet ·
Founder at Soulmix

The country club analogy is really interesting. Members pay for a curated and moderated community. Following the analogy, you could say most popular networks take the community center approach.

Is there a business model that allows country club online communities to grow into large businesses?

I feel like we will see this more. One could view reddit as the community center, and Quibb as a country club. I've been thinking about this a lot for Soulmix, trying to decide which approach I'd prefer later down the road.

Exclusivity increases the likelihood that I'll invite individuals. Instead of pushing an invite on someone, I'm in a mindset of giving something valuable to my favorite contacts. After Sandi asked me to write an invite to my alumni group, I tried, but found it difficult. Who was I asking to come? How should I couch the request to target the right group of people Everything I wrote seemed spammy. I didn't actually want any of those people in Quibb, I was only doing this as a favor to Sandi. On the other hand, giving an exclusive invite felt like a win-win-win - for me, my friend and Quibb.

Director of Marketing at Onboardly

I think keeping Quibb invite-only is a great idea. I'd rather have a high quality community with amazing content than a massive community with subpar content.

Entrepreneur-in-Action at Sequoia Capital

One of the coolest things about Quibb is that it's about a publication built from the people following, just like Twitter. Who cares if Twitter has a bunch of garbage in it if you're just following people that you care to learn from and see the things that they share?

Quora and Quibb both do a nice job creating filters... but the way I see it, the filters are more like "semi-permeable membranes" where serendipity is still supported.

Reply · Tweet ·
Entrepreneur-in-Action at Sequoia Capital

Whoops, I hit Comment too fast and can't edit.

The point of that statement is that "It doesn't matter" whether its invite only or not, because my personal Quibb experience won't materially change - I can still primarily get posts from the people that I follow in my inbox.

Roomorama, Scout Ventures

As a user, I'd definitely like to see it stay invite-only. The best conversations I've had here are with a few people. Even a thread like this can get a bit overwhelming to read and get involved in the discussion. Its part of why Quora has somewhat lost my attention as a social product (though I still find some utility in it as a utility), as they've grown.

It's like being at a massive party as opposed to a house party with just friends. Me personally, I'd rather be with like 5-6 close friends than at a massive bar with hundreds of people fighting for attention...

Product Marketing at Dropbox

Couldn't agree more. Dunbar's number comes to mind here. I've found that on knowledge networks like Quora and Quibb I'm much more proactive about updating my following list to keep it at a (personally) manageable level of 50 or so. I like to be able to bring some context about the person to whatever conversation I'm currently engaged in, whether that's in the form of previous contributions to or interactions on the platform, or a real-life relationship. And that's tough to do with more than a handful of individuals at once.

Reply · Tweet ·
Growth Manager at KISSmetrics

If Quibb tries to compete with LinkedIn directly, it probably won't end well. Instead, move up-market and build a social network based on quality. Usually, you do this by charging more than everyone else. The invite-only serves the same function and allows you to position yourself at the top of the market. As others have already mentioned, I'd double-down and make the invite even more restrictive. People go nuts when something's exclusive.

If you do open up access, I would only do it with a strategy that's designed to differentiate yourself from LinkedIn and not take them head-on.

Digital Tech Startup Junkie, The SeVin Group, Engagement Media Technology, Newlio

Not to sound overly obvious - but to me you've highlighted the reason that Quora started to degenerate . . . curating participants can prove to be the most important element of delivering a fantastic User Experience -> though it comes with its own set of challenges. . .

Reply · Tweet ·
Entrepreneur + Executive Coach at Self-employed

Have you thought about turning Quibb into a platform that lets others create curated communities? For ex, I'd love to see or create a Quibb for elite investors. And as a b2b guy, I can easily see the model working within verticals like healthcare, defense, or education.

Reply · Tweet ·
Advisor at Quibb

Mostly Sandi and I have mostly assumed a non-verticalized network, where it's one app with one professional/interest graph. I think that's influenced by the other tech companies also doing that- Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc., whereas I know that in convos that Sandi has had with media folks, there's a natural angle to go verticals. I haven't thought enough about verticals or separate sites enough to really have an opinion about it :)

Entrepreneur + Executive Coach at Toward Purpose

I would just call into question where the value of Quibb is coming from: is it from "community" built around a common interest, or socially curated content that cuts across many interests?

Reply · Tweet ·
Founder at Soulmix

In general, I definitely agree. I think it would good to keep in invite-only forever. Both because I like the quality on here a lot, but also because I'm just curious how an invite-only community would scale and love to see Quibb tackle the problem :)

Edit Mode, AC+A, Execution Labs

I agree with all of Andrew's points. Apart from any desire to keep Quibb invite-only, it (more importantly) also has that capability because of strong single-user utility (I could just use Quibb to surface interesting articles and not ever participate in the community).

One knock-on effect from staying invite-only that I can see is a higher perceived barrier to being social. For example "Oh gee person X from tech giant Y that I greatly admire commented on this link, I better not say something stupid and embarrass myself." I think one way to mitigate this (that it appears Quibb is already doing by screening applications by hand) is to keep the user base relatively tight in terms of experience, schooling, and accomplishments (think of a venn diagram made up of user cohorts, with lots of overlap).

That's enough pre-coffee rambling for now, but I'm very excited to see how this community continues to develop.

Reply · Tweet ·
Founder & CEO at Jooners

The real question is:
How does Quibb create value?

For me, Quibb creates value on 3 fronts:
1) Curated / recommended articles
2) Discussions around the curated articles/topics/questions
3) Lack of distraction (no dog photos, family vacation on amazing locations etc.)

This last one is important: To be engaged and thought-full, you need to concentrate and focus. If you have different things coming at you at the same time, it is harder to be focused on one of them deeply. The value in Quibb is its ability to create a professional environment where I learn new things. So I keep coming back.

Take this post for example. Andrew Chen asks a question and the ensuing discussion touches on business strategy, invitation validity, G+ vs. Pinterest, group dynamics and more. The value of a highly curated community comes from the commentary. Not just the post itself or the curated article. Articles are also shared/curated elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook etc.) but a) usually there are no comments, or b) the comments format does not allow for meaningful comments, and c) it is mixed up with other things (vacation photos, other interests as David McDougall is outlining) in a way that diminishes my desire to comment.

"Invite-only or not" is really not the the question. Let everyone come in, but make commenting or curating invite-only.

Reply · Tweet ·
Advisor at Quibb

I'm late to the game here on this thread, but one thing that stands out to me as I become one of the 194 people that have read the post and add a comment to the existing 67 comments is, well...just that. There are 67 thoughtful comments. I'm curious how that compares with the average post @Quibb receives (my guess is that the subject of Andrew's post reveals that we are an invested community). Bill Gates recently posted to LinkedIn about the three things he's learned from Warren Buffet. Over 1.4 million people opened that post and 3,765 people commented. Dig into those comments, try to find even 50 useful ones (.01%) and the answer to Andrew's question becomes clear to me - as someone who values Quibb for the curated community, more than a distribution platform.

Back (long ago) when I was applying for law school, a mentor of mine advised me to learn as much as I could about the types of people the school was looking for and, therefore, who I could expect my classmates to be. He explained that, unlike college, where classrooms are generally filled with lectures and who sits next to you matters less, at law school, the professor surfaces the core cirriculum and guides discussion, but the learning mostly takes place from the classroom discourse by and among your peers. This so-called Socratic Method is the lens through which I've always viewed Quibb and why it remains one of the few tabs constantly open on my browser.

I'm not a fan of gated communities in general, but I'm enjoying the high-quality of my feed as a user :) From a growth perspective, though, I'd try hard to figure out how to let more people in without compromising the experience for existing users.

Reply · Tweet ·

I consider Quibb to be Reddit without trolls. Don't get me wrong, I like Reddit and I think it can unearth incredible content compared to what is found on Quibb, but from a mature conversation standpoint, Quibb nails it. Personally I'd like to see the invite only process continue and I'd also like to see things that up participation from the active (though relatively small) user base.

I've always liked emerging social networks in the beginning before the "masses" arrived. Because with the large crowd comes:
-Spamming
-Mindless arguments
-Brand integration (large volume networks have to advertise because their users won't pay. If Quibb stays curated, I'll gladly pay for the service instead of getting advertised too.)

Thanks @andrewchen for starting this discussion.

Reply · Tweet ·

I forgot to add, in many ways Medium.com was exactly like the early days of Quibb. I loved the exclusive feeling and high quality content. I currently "curate" one of the largest collections on their platform called "Best Thing I Found Online Today" but nonetheless, I don't feel motivated to spend as much time with Medium anymore. Curious to see how Quibb balances quality control as it scales.

Reply · Tweet ·
Director of Product at One Kings Lane

Thus far, I'm a huge fan of the model that Quibb has. Even for more passive readers like myself, the content is always good, and I believe that's largely because the community has been well curated. I also appreciated the thoughtfulness and openness that Sandi has with the community and think she does a good job of engaging the user base.

Lastly, there's no bad content on here in general, and that's a strong statement. I do worry that opening it up more will likely lead to some problems in that sense. Potentially, if opened up more, then there needs to be strong policing to remove people if they are bringing down the quality of the community. Just an idea if you decide to pursue a more open strategy.

At any rate, keep up the great work!

Sandi MacPherson, Editor-in-Chief at Quibb Sandi MacPherson
Editor-in-Chief at Quibb
Andrew Goldner, Advisor at Quibb Andrew Goldner
Advisor at Quibb