ChaCha, the new search engine founded by Scott Jones and Brad Bostic has secured $6 million in private funding from some pretty big names. ChaCha is unique because it allows you to search the web normally or with live assistance via real-time chat. Here’s the announcement from the press release:
“ChaCha, the only real-tim human-powered search engine in the world, announced today it received $6 million in private funding in 2006. The ChaCha search system is so innovative that 18 patents have been filed in the first year. The funding was led by Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment firm of Jeff Bezos, with additional participation from Rod Canion, founding CEO of Compaq Computer, and Jack Gill, veteran Silicon Valley investor, founder of Vanguard Ventures and current partner at Maven Ventures.”
Since Amazon.com has developed their own search engine, A9, I wonder if there will be some kind of integration of ChaCha and A9 or Amazon.com?
The guides that provide the real time search assistance have a community called the ChaCha Underground. The way the system works, the more people search and use the guides, the better the search engine will get. You can apply to be a ChaCha guide here. ChaCha also maintains a company news blog.
I think we’ll see a lot more serious competition for Google in 2007. Companies like ChaCha that offer innovative search options will gain market share in part, by feeding off of the inefficiencies inherent with huge, fast growing companies like Google.
What will be interesting to see is how fast the quality of search results improves and whether people will feel comfortable giving up the perception of anonymity when searching for the benefit of real time assistance. The most popular search queries tend to concern racier topics, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out for the search guides and the overall user experience.
Here is a good review of ChaCha over at Read/WriteWeb.