Survival Story: ChaCha Answers Billionth Question

ChaCha announced that it had answered its billionth question:

ChaCha, the #1 free, real-time answers service, today announced that it has answered the billionth question submitted by its rapidly growing user base of 25 million online and mobile users.

The ChaCha story is impressive. I won't recount it all here but it began as a "social search" engine online and then "found its voice" as a mobile answers service with voice and SMS input. It has since become a key ad platform (SMS) for reaching teens and young adults. 

Other data points released (verbatim from the release): 

  • The company hit a record of nearly one million unique visitors to ChaCha.com in a single day and hit a record of two million SMS mobile questions in a single day.
  • ChaCha.com is the fastest-growing website in the Top 100 as measured by comScore and Quantcast, recently surging past companies such as MTV, NYTimes, TMZ, Zynga, and Yelp.
  • ChaCha users tend to be online users spanning a broader demographic of ages 18 to 49, with mobile users skewing to the younger end of the spectrum.

The company says it still has 62,000 guides, though in the recent past more questions are answered via a database of existing answers.

Rival paid service kgb has struggled to maintain and grow usage volumes and is placing increasing emphasis on its daily deals offering. The two companies are polar opposites with essentially the same consumer value proposition: human-powered search results or answers. ChaCha has always had traffic because it's free, monetization and revenues were the problem, while kgb had a business model but had trouble building loyalty because it isn't free.

Both services exist against the backdrop of declining 411 volumes as people adopt other tools and platforms.