ChaCha (search engine)

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ChaCha
ChaCha Red Logo.jpg
Founded September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Headquarters Carmel, Indiana, USA
Area served USA, United Kingdom
Founder(s) Scott A. Jones, Brad Bostic
Services Web search, mobile search
Revenue $6.3 million (2010)[1]
Employees 71 (2010)[1]
Slogan(s) Powered by People
Website ChaCha.com (USA)
UK.ChaCha.com (UK)
Alexa rank 1,192 (global), 418 (USA) (September 2012)[2]

ChaCha is a human-guided search engine. It provides free, real-time answers to any question, through its website, via text messaging, or by using one of the company's mobile apps.

The company, founded in 2006 by Scott A. Jones and Brad Bostic, is based in Carmel, Indiana, USA, part of the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Its name comes from the Mandarin Chinese word cha (Chinese: ; pinyin: chá; Wade–Giles: ch'a), which means "to search." [3]

Guides[edit]

ChaCha answers questions through the use of independent contractors called Guides.[4] There are four main types of guides: Generalist/Specialist, Expeditor, Transcriber, and Vetter.[5] Expeditors categorize questions, convert them into standard form, provide direct responses for certain question types, and also make sure that an answer doesn't already exist for that question.[6] The purposes of a Generalist, "the original and basic ChaCha Guide role," are to: determine what the customer's question is, find an answer to the question using the Internet, format the answer into a text message, and add "magic" to the answer which gives it a human quality.[7] Specialists are a more selective group of guides. They have all of the same purposes as a Generalist but they sign up for specific categories of questions based on their interest in and knowledge of those categories.[8] The role of Transcriber is to listen to questions recorded by customers who call into 1-800-2ChaCha and then convert the recorded message into text form so that Generalists and Specialists can answer them.[9]

Guides are paid on a per-query basis. Generalists and Specialists can expect to make between $0.10 and $0.20 for each question answered, while Expediters earn $0.02 per question and Transcribers earn $0.03 per question. Vetters earn $0.01 for each question fielded. As of late 2011 the company reported it engaged about 180,000 guides.[10]

History[edit]

The alpha version of ChaCha was launched on September 1, 2006.[citation needed] A beta version was introduced on November 6, 2006.[11] ChaCha said 20,000 guides had registered by year's end and that it had raised US$6 million in development funds, including support from Bezos Expeditions, a personal investment firm owned by Jeff Bezos, the entrepreneur behind Amazon.com.[12]

By January 2008, ChaCha had 5,000 freelance guides with at least 500 working at any one time.[13] MogoNews.com reported that ChaCha's first round of equity financing was $14 million plus a $2 million grant from 21st Century Technology Fund.[14]

ChaCha announced on March 17, 2009[15] a new round of equity financing totaling US$12 million[16] while also laying off 25 employees and reducing the 56 remaining salaries by 10 percent.[17][18] The renewed investment brings total venture capital to an acknowledged $43 million,[19] though an independent estimate places it at $58 million.[19] A month later, co-founder Brad Bostic stepped down as company president, saying ChaCha no longer needed him for day-to-day operations.[19][20] Bostic noted that the company had been struggling for profitability in the current global recession.[19]

In July 2010, ChaCha Inc. was recognized as one of the “Hottest Companies in the Midwest” by Lead411.[21]

In August 2011, ChaCha launched its text messaging-based service in the United Kingdom.[22] That same month the company reported having answered over 1.7 billion questions.[23]

On April 20, 2012 ChaCha shut down operations in the United Kingdom; the company stated the reason for ending UK operations was that "adoption rates for new price-competitive services are quite low in the UK."[24]

Products[edit]

Desktop search[edit]

ChaCha was founded with the intention to offer human-guided search from within a web browser and for the search engine to learn from the results provided by their independent contractors.[25] The system offered a chat on the left side of the page where users could chat with the guides and conclude their search.[25] The center of the page contained results that a guide could add or remove (later users could also add or remove these results). The right side of the page contained ads that were relevant to the search.[26]

Desktop search was phased out in April 2008 in favor of mobile products.[27]

Mobile search[edit]

Users were able to send an SMS message with their question to 242–242, where Guides would then answer it. Standard messaging fees could apply, but ChaCha never charged additional fees. The company answered over 2 million text message questions daily.Unfortunately Cha Cha no longer supports questions via SMS.

Voice search[edit]

ChaCha launched its beta version of a call-in search service on April 1, 2008, while discontinuing its less effective guided web search.[27] Users call a toll-free number (800-2ChaCha) to have a human answer their questions via SMS messaging.

Mobile marketing[edit]

In July 2008, ChaCha launched its first mobile marketing campaign with Coca-Cola to promote its My Coke Rewards program to users interested in NASCAR racing.[28] Fox News reported that ChaCha planned by mid-2008 to charge users $5–$10 per month once they exceeded 10 queries.[29] However, currently, no additional fees have been implemented, nor have any plans been officially announced by any reliable source.[30]

In November, 2008, ChaCha launched its SMS Advertising Platform at ad:tech New York.[31][32]

In March 2009, ChaCha reported 30 million "impressions per month" and "3.6 million users" since January 2008.[33][34] An ESPN 2009 article stated that ChaCha gets about 1,000,000 questions each day according to their tipsheets.[35] A former Yahoo executive opened a New York office for ChaCha in hopes of increasing advertising.[36]

In April 2009, Rick Reilly spent some time working for ChaCha for an article on ESPN The Magazine.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Company Profile". Inc. 5000. Inc. magazine. 2011. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  2. ^ "ChaCha.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  3. ^ "How did your company get the name ChaCha?". chacha.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  4. ^ "ChaCha Guides FAQ". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  5. ^ "Guide Roles". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  6. ^ "Expeditor|ChaCha". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  7. ^ "Generalist|ChaCha". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  8. ^ "Specialist|ChaCha". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  9. ^ "Transcriber|ChaCha". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  10. ^ December 4, 2011 by Sarah Kessler 16 (2011-12-04). "1.8 Billion Questions Later, ChaCha Has Evolved Past Text Message Roots". Mashable.com. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  11. ^ ChaCha press release, BusinessWire, November 6, 2006.
  12. ^ "ChaCha secures $6 million in private funding from Jeff Bezos, Rod Canion, Jack Gill and others", ChaCha press release (January 8, 2007).
  13. ^ "Review: ChaCha's Text-Message Search Engine" Thursday, January 17, 2008 at FoxNews.com quoting Candace Choi with AP
  14. ^ Duryee, Tricia. "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff", mocoNews.net, March 18, 2009, quoting "peHUB"
  15. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Equity Financing and Reduces Costs | ChaCha". Partners.chacha.com. 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  16. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff" By Andrew Berg WirelessWeek.com – March 18, 2009
  17. ^ Rao, Leena (March 17, 2009). "Nobody is Dancing At ChaCha. One Third Of Employees Get Pink Slips, Salary Cuts For The Rest". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  18. ^ "ChaCha Cuts Staff, Salaries To Make $12 Million In New Capital Last Longer" Washington Post March 18, 2009 quoting mocoNews.net
  19. ^ a b c d Wauters, Robin (April 30, 2009). "ChaCha Co-Founder Brad Bostic Steps Down As President". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  20. ^ "ChaCha partner dancing to different drum: co-founder out as president, in as strategist". Indianapolis Business Journal. HighBeam Research. April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  21. ^ "Lead411 launches 'Hottest Companies in the Midwest' awards". Lead411.com. July 21, 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  22. ^ "Learn, Teach, Earn with ChaCha's Human Guide Program". tmcnet.com. August 17, 2011. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  23. ^ "Proven Leader in Work From Home Opportunities Launching in UK". Corporate Press Release. ChaCha.com. August 16, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Q&A Site ChaCha Cancels UK Business After Poor User Take-Up". TechCrunch.com. April 27, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "One day searchers may quit Googling and start ChaCha-ing". USA Today. 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  26. ^ JPG screenshot. srajaram.com
  27. ^ a b "ChaCha Ditches Guided Search Model. I Love To Hate This Startup". TechCrunch. March 31, 2008. 
  28. ^ "ChaCha Cofounder Describes How the Company Is Making Money", U.S. News & World Report, August 8, 2008
  29. ^ "Review: ChaCha's Text-Message Search Engine" Thursday, January 17, 2008 at FoxNews.com quoting Candace Choi with AP
  30. ^ "ChaCha Content – Usage Limit". Content.chacha.com. 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  31. ^ "Akamai, ChaCha Announce Parties at New York". Adtechblog.com. 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-04-14. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Podcast released: Our ad:tech "Making Mobile Work" workshop". chacha.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  33. ^ "ChaCha press release March 17, 2009". Partners.chacha.com. 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  34. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff" By Andrew Berg in WirelessWeek.com – March 18, 2009
  35. ^ a b "Reilly: ChaCha has all the answers – unless I'm on the other end". ESPN The Magazine. Go.com. October 5, 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  36. ^ "ChaCha's CEO, Scott Jones, on layoffs, new funding and sales staff increases" March 18, 2009 audio by InsideINdianaBusiness.com

External links[edit]