ChaCha Receives Funding, Hints at New Stage of Search

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Google may be the undisputed king of search, but for some reason new search engines keep popping up. And probably for good reason. There are niches and methods of delivering information that just can’t be bottled up in a single search engine, even if that single search engine is Google.

ChaCha, a search engine that offers its users the assistance of a real-life human guide, has just received $6 million in funding to confirm the notion that the search door is still open enough for new entrants to make some noise.

The funding came from a group of companies and individuals, including Jeff Bezos of and Rod Canion, CEO of Compaq.

Canion said that he believes “ChaCha’s radically different approach to search through their innovative use of real people will continue to gain traction in the marketplace.”

According to Scott Jones, the creator of ChaCha, 40% of ChaCha’s users are utilizing the 25,000 available guides for their search queries.

A traditional search method is also offered on the site, but it does not make use of complex algorithms or spiders to come up with their search results pages. Instead, ChaCha relies on their guides to update its database with each query they help with.

These guides are paid $5 to $10 for every query to ensure quality control. Anyone from work-at-home parents to college students work part-time as guides for the search engine.

Jones admits that the one major downfall of the site right now is speed. “One of the key things the company is doing right now is speeding it up,” he said.

With the recent news of Wikiasari’s impending entrance into the search world in 2007, and with the ever evolving search landscape from niche search engines and even traditional search engines tweaking their search results pages to enhance satisfaction, it’s clear that Google is not the end-all-be-all for search.

Should this growing field of search engines worry Google? Probably not in the foreseeable future, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a world where Web users become more educated and refined in their search habits and make use of a variety of search engines and even social bookmarking sites to find the exact information they need.

There is a discernible demand and desire for a more human feel to search experiences, whether it be in the form of more comprehensive top-of-the-page results, user-ranked search results pages, or even user-aided searches.

The next stage of search will be a joy not only to watch develop, but to experience as well.



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