Stack Overflow raises $6M to take its Q&A model beyond programming

Stack Overflow, a site where users can find answers to programming questions, has raised $6 million in a first round of funding. The money comes a group of big-name investors led by Union Square Ventures, with participation from angel investors Ron Conway, Chris Dixon, Caterina Fake, Naval Ravikant, Nirav Tolia, Joshua Schachter, Micah Siegel, and Bob Pasker.

The New York-based company describes itself as a combination a wiki, a blog, a forum, and social news sites like Digg and Reddit. If users have a programming question that they want answered by the community, they post it on the site. Other users can ask for clarification or make comments, and the questioner can rewrite their query in response. Comments can be edited by other users. Helpful answers can be voted up the thread, while unhelpful or inaccurate answers can be voted down. The person who posted the question can also select one of the answers as the “accepted answer.”

Stack Overflow says it now has 7.1 million unique visitors every month. It sounds like the funding has less to do with the Stack Overflow site itself, and more with the company’s efforts to expand that model beyond programming. It created a product called Stack Exchange, which basically lets other people create their own Stack Overflow-style sites for other topics. The problem is, charging for Stack Exchange wasn’t working, so the team decided to raise money so it could experiment with the model.

On the Stack Overflow blog, cofounder Joel Spolsky writes:

The money we’ve raised means that, for the next ($6m / monthly burn rate) months, we can take on new projects, hire new people, and build new expert Q&A sites on a wide variety of new topics. Instead of opening sites in exchange for money, we’re about to launch a new, democratic system where anyone can propose a Q&A site, and, if it gets a critical mass of interested people, we’ll create it.