Formspring has announced $11.5 million in new funding, confirming earlier reports that the popular questions and answers service had taken on significant new capital from lead investor Redpoint Ventures.
The company has also revealed a big new way to grow its audience: a button that publishers can use to ask questions on their website called "Respond." As the name suggests, it lets visitors respond to a question posed by the publisher. The button itself resembles the Tweet, Facebook share and Digg buttons already pervasive on millions of sites across the web.
Like typical Formspring responses, the answers can be broadcast back to social sites like Facebook and Twitter, with the key difference being that the links direct people to the publisher's site instead of Formspring.
In turn, it's a new way for publishers to generate traffic and tap into Formspring's 20 million registered users, many of whom appear to be quite active, with the site recently surpassing 2 billion questions answered, up from 1 billion last September. Several large publishers are already using the Respond button at launch, including The Huffington Post and IGN.
With the new funding - which also included participation from Baseline Ventures and a number of individual investors - Formspring has now taken on $14 million in capital. The company is yet to reveal its monetization plans, though in a conversation with me on Tuesday CEO Ade Olonoh and VP of Product Tom Wang did hint that it would be advertising focused.
Asked about suddenly white hot Q&A site Quora, Olonoh said that his service is more "about getting to know people [and getting] insight into their personality" as opposed to more knowledge-driven questions. "Our audience is relatively mainstream and there's this sense that looking at an empty status box is daunting but … responding to a question is natural," he added.
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