Pearl: Probably Not A Quora-Killer

By June 20, 2012

Image: Pearl

Expert query service JustAnswer, which rebranded as Pearl (as in, apparently, a pearl of wisdom) Tuesday, isn’t likely to challenge Quora. Unlike the latter, which remains free of charge to individuals posing as well as answering questions, San Francisco-based Pearl plans to continue charging users to submit queries – which can range from law to automotive maintenance.

Founder Andy Kurtzig started the project nearly a decade ago, inspired by his wife’s questions regarding a pregnancy. Nodding to that genesis, he said today that he sees the service as providing a valuable peace of mind in addition to the more straightforward commodity of expert advice.

“There is significant information clutter on the web, but people come to when they need to talk one-on-one with a professional about an important issue,” Kurtzig said, in a press release. “We truly help people, not only by providing them with another credible option to get answers, but by saving them money, time and worry.”

On Quora, in contrast, no money changes hands, and there is no guarantee that highly-rated answers will provide the opinion of an accredited expert. The strength of that model is that it casts a wide net, drawing attention to individuals with good analysis skills as well as public figures or bystanders who picked up first-hand information about a pertinent topic.

Pearl, on the other hand, is is based on the understanding that a modest fee – which runs at around $30 – guarantees that an expert with an understanding of a topic will be able to provide a private, reliable answer in a timely fashion.

Pearl, when it was JustAnswer, raised some $25 million in Series A funding last year, coasting on strong financial performance for the last several years. The company’s revenue has increased an average 123 percent over the past five years, according to press materials, and is generating revenue in 196 countries and 22 currencies.

“What is doing is truly innovative,” reads a statement from investor Charles Schwab. “The idea of bringing even a small percentage of the professional market online, in the way that did with retail, is a multi-billion-dollar idea. With an established network of independent industry professionals, a proven and thriving business model and now the new site and brand, I think is positioned to see exciting growth in its customer base.”

Images: Pearl, Morguefile