Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds some investors dancing to the ChaCha, while others enjoy a piping hot Mochila.
First up this week is ChaCha, which, like Guruji and hakia, has introduced a new twist to online search. The difference here is that ChaCha's "cuchi cuchi" has nothing to do with technology. Instead, the company has hired some 25,000 guides who can be called upon live to aid with a search.
"If you still don't get what you want, you say, 'I want a live guide, right now,'" ChaCha CEO Scott Jones told VentureWire in a recent interview. "It's basically a reference librarian with domain knowledge of what you want to know about." Call it adding the human factor.
Still, like Google or any of the others, ChaCha allows a user to conduct a simple Web search. Some of its results are pretty impressive. For example, I searched for Denver real estate prices and landed at a site that specializes in local housing market conditions. Not bad.
Then I decided to further test the service and use a live guide. Right away, a chat window opened and a guide named "MaryW" came to my aid. My challenge wasn't easy: I asked for the average selling price for homes near the Colorado town in which I live.
Nevertheless, she responded in less than two minutes with exactly what I wanted, from multiple sources. I was impressed, and when prompted by the system for feedback, I gave her a strong rating.
That's apparently pretty important. ChaCha says that high-rated guides will earn more. (But not much more -- the pay scale ranges between $5 and $10 per hour.)
So far, private equity investors like the model. On Monday, the firm announced that it had received $6 million in financing from three notable tech investors: Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) founder Jeff Bezos, former Compaq founder Rod Canion, and Vanguard Ventures co-founder Jack Gill.
But is there really enough mojo in ChaCha to challenge Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) ? Well, why not? For months now, Microsoft has been working on technology to make search more effective.
And anyone who has been flummoxed by the vast sea of irrelevant results that come with every search at Google can tell you that online search is still very much in its infancy. Add this one to the IPO watch list, Fool.
Next up is Mochila, which has created an online syndication network that claims to simplify the process of licensing creative works between publications. If that doesn't sound too different, I don't blame you. Syndication networks have been around for what seems like forever. King Features Syndicate, for instance, has been a supplier of comics to newspapers for decades.
The difference here is that Mochila allows editors to pull creative works a la carte and on demand, via an online storehouse of available content. What's more, editors can choose to align content with relevant advertising through Mochila's ad-matching service, which is powered by professional pitches like 24/7 Real Media (Nasdaq: TFSM ) .
So far, dozens of media outlets have found Mochila's idea refreshing. Its client list includes CNET (Nasdaq: CNET ) , the Associated Press, and Washington Post (NYSE: WPO ) , among others.
That's why I was unsurprised to see Mochila announce $8 million in second-round funding on Jan. 2. If anything, Mochila, like ChaCha, seems on the fast track to IPO. I'll be waiting.
That's all for now. See you back here next week, when we continue our quest to find the greatest growth.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, ranked 1,036 out of more than 19,800 in Motley Fool CAPS, didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Get the skinny on all the stocks he owns by checking Tim's Fool profile. CNET is a Rule Breakers pick, Yahoo! is a Stock Advisor pick, and Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.