Lee Odden

ChaCha Search Engine Gets $6m Funding from Jeff Bezos and others

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.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I’m not sure about Wikia David.

    Joe, I was thinking something similar, but more along the lines of the Go.com guides. Have you tried the guided search? I’ve only tried it once so far.

  2. Avatar David Dalka says

    Wasn’t the Wikia thing rumored to have Amazon backing as well? Are they trying to build a portfolio of search engines?

  3. Avatar Joe Holcomb says

    This isn’t really innovative nor is it likely to succeed. It’s nothing more than the concept of the DMOZ with Yahoo Answers mixed in. It has been tried before and failed by other companies, more than a couple times over the past 8-10 years. Frankly it’s a waste of a good $6 Million but at least someone is getting paid. More web 2.0 fluff.

  4. Avatar Joe Holcomb says

    No, as a search/advertiing guy I don’t need it or have a use for it. But thinking as an end user why waste my time waiting for answers? I want my answers “NOW” – on demand – not from someone that “might” be an “expert”.

  5. The only way to assess it is to try it. So I did. And I was impressed by the results. I decided to try the guided search and was surprised to find a human (ElizaG) was waiting for my query !

    The query: Do Armadillos nest ??

    The guide promptly provided three very relevant results, only one of which I found through standard organic search.

    At the end of the day, ChaCha met my needs quickly and effectively. I was unable to achieve the same result with exclusively algo based engines.

    No matter how you look at it, the consumer eventually holds the purse strings. And this consumer likes what he saw 🙂

  6. With ChaCha you can perform a normal instant search, but you can also click “Search with a Guide” and be immediately connected to an experienced, friendly ChaCha Guide who will find the best Web site(s) with the exact information you are looking for!

    As a ChaCha Guide, I have my own ChaCha toolbar and would like to invite you to download my toolbar and use it to search on ChaCha. It’s much better than the other toolbars out there because you can connect with a real person live, to guide you. Who knows, you may get connected to me!

    Send me a email at blueblehblah at yahoo dot com and I will send you the toolbar!

    Thanks for reading and have a good day!