ChaCha (search engine)

ChaCha (search engine)
Founded September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Founder Scott A. Jones and Brad Bostic
Headquarters Carmel, Indiana, United States
Area served United States, United Kingdom
Industry Internet
Services Web search, mobile search
Employees 71[1]
Website (USA) (UK)

ChaCha is a search engine that specializes in answering questions through a technique known as the human search engine. ChaCha was created by Scott A. Jones and Brad Bostic. The company is based in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, United States.

The name ChaCha comes from the Mandarin Chinese word, cha (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: wikt:查; pinyin: chá; Wade–Giles: ch'a), which means "to search." [2]



The alpha version of ChaCha was launched on September 1, 2006[citation needed]. A beta version was introduced on November 6, 2006.[3] 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[4] By January 2008 AP reported that ChaCha had 5,000 freelance guides with no less than 500 working at any one time.[5] Washington Post partner reported that ChaCha's first round of equity financing was actually US$14 million plus a US$2 million grant from 21st Century Technology Fund.[6] ChaCha announced on March 17, 2009[7] a new round of equity financing totaling US$12 million[8] while also laying off 25 employees and reducing the 56 remaining salaries by 10 percent.[9]

In July 2010, ChaCha Inc. was recognized as one of the “2010 Hottest Companies in the Midwest” by Lead411.[10]

In August 2011, ChaCha launched its text messaging-based service in the United Kingdom[11] available via short code 85852.

Traffic and growth

ChaCha has experienced significant growth since it was launched in September 2006. The site is currently verified to have broken the 17 million-unique-visitors mark according to Quantcast, making it approximately the 68th largest site in the United States. As of August 2011, ChaCha had answered over 1.7 billion questions.[12]


Desktop search

ChaCha had originally been 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.[13] The system offered a chat on the left side of the page where users could chat with the guides and conclude their search.[13] 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.[14]

Desktop search was phased out in April 2008 in favor of mobile products.[15]

Mobile Search

Users send an SMS message with their question to 242-242, where Guides will then answer it. Standard messaging fees may apply, but ChaCha will not charge additional fees.

Voice search

ChaCha launched its beta version of a call-in search service on April 1, 2008, while discontinuing its less effective guided web search.[15] Users call a toll-free number (800-2ChaCha) to have a human answer their questions via SMS messaging.

Mobile marketing

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.[16] Fox News reported that ChaCha planned by mid 2008 to charge users $5–$10 per month once they exceeded 10 queries.[17]. However, currently, no additional fees have been implemented, nor have any plans been officially announced by any reliable source.[18]

In November, 2008, ChaCha launched its SMS Advertising Platform at ad:tech New York.[19][20]

In March 2009, ChaCha reported 30 million "impressions per month" and "3.6 million users" since January 2008.[21][22] An ESPN article stated that ChaCha gets about 1,000,000 questions each day according to their tipsheets.[23] A former Yahoo executive opened an New York office for ChaCha in hopes of increasing advertising.[24]


ChaCha uses independent contractors called Guides.[25] There are four main types of guides: Generalist/Specialist, Expeditor, Transcriber, and Vetter.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] The duty of Transcribers 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.[30]

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 and Transcribers earn $0.02 per question. Vetters earn $0.01 for each question fielded.


The Wall Street Journal’s personal technology columnist, Walt Mossberg, characterized ChaCha as having "fast, accurate, useful answers" in his April 24, 2008 column If You Have ChaCha and a Cellphone, You Have Answers.[31]

In April 2009, ESPN's Rick Reilly spent some time working for ChaCha for an article on ESPN The Magazine. Reilly says:

ChaCha, as most people under 103 know, is the highly addictive mobile answer service that responds to any query you send (text "ChaCha" or "242242") with a real answer from a real person, usually within three minutes, for free. Is this a great world or what?[23]

See also


  1. ^ " August 23, 2011 by Inc. Magazine
  2. ^ "How did your company get the name ChaCha?". 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24 
  3. ^ ChaCha press release, BusinessWire, November 6, 2006.
  4. ^ "ChaCha secures $6 million in private funding from Jeff Bezos, Rod Canion, Jack Gill and others", ChaCha press release, January 8, 2007.
  5. ^ "Review: ChaCha's Text-Message Search Engine" Thursday, January 17, 2008 at quoting Candace Choi with AP
  6. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff" by Tricia Duryee of on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 quoting "peHUB"
  7. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Equity Financing and Reduces Costs | ChaCha". 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  8. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff" By Andrew Berg - March 18, 2009
  9. ^ "ChaCha Cuts Staff, Salaries To Make $12 Million In New Capital Last Longer" Washington Post March 18, 2009 quoting
  10. ^ Lead411 launches "Hottest Companies in the Midwest" awards
  11. ^ Learn, Teach, Earn with ChaCha's Human Guide Program
  12. ^ "Proven Leader in Work From Home Opportunities Launching in UK", ChaCha Corporate Press Release, August 16, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "One day searchers may quit Googling and start ChaCha-ing". Usatoday.Com. 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b "ChaCha Ditches Guided Search Model. I Love To Hate This Startup",, March 31, 2008.
  16. ^ "ChaCha Cofounder Describes How the Company Is Making Money", U.S. News & World Report, August 8, 2008
  17. ^ "Review: ChaCha's Text-Message Search Engine" Thursday, January 17, 2008 at quoting Candace Choi with AP
  18. ^ "ChaCha Content - Usage Limit". 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  19. ^ "Akamai, ChaCha Announce Parties at New York ad:tech : ad:tech blog". 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-04-14. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Podcast released: Our ad:tech “Making Mobile Work” workshop". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  21. ^ ""ChaCha press release March 17, 2009"". 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  22. ^ "ChaCha Secures $12M in Financing, Reduces Staff" By Andrew Berg in - March 18, 2009
  23. ^ a b "Reilly: ChaCha has all the answers - unless I'm on the other end - ESPN The Magazine". 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  24. ^ "ChaCha's CEO, Scott Jones, on layoffs, new funding and sales staff increases" March 18, 2009 audio by
  25. ^ "ChaCha Guides FAQ". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  26. ^ "Guide Roles". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  27. ^ "Expeditor|ChaCha". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  28. ^ "Generalist|ChaCha". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  29. ^ "Specialist|ChaCha". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  30. ^ "Transcriber|ChaCha". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  31. ^ "If You Have ChaCha and a Cellphone, You Have Answers | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD". 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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