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ChaCha lands $3M investment

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Carmel-based ChaCha Search has closed a $3 million round of financing to further fund an expansion of its signature mobile service, the company said early Thursday.

The funding extends a $20 million investment made in October by VantagePoint Venture Partners and Rho Ventures. Nearly a third of the latest round, $900,000, comes from new investor Qualcomm Ventures.

“We have tracked ChaCha closely since the beginning and have been impressed by its recent, accelerated growth,” Qualcomm Vice President Nagraj Kashyap said in a prepared statement.  

Since its inception in December 2005, ChaCha has raised about $75 million.

ChaCha, which bills itself as “the No. 1 free real-time answers service,” allows wireless phone users to call in or text their questions to the company’s human guides. ChaCha makes money by embedding advertisements in the answers.

The company said it has answered more than 1 billion questions in the past two years, reaching over 32 million unique users every month through its mobile platforms and website.

The company has about 70 employees in addition to 63,000-plus independent contractors who work as guides, earning 2 cents to 20 cents per task.

San Diego-based Qualcomm Ventures, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., was launched in November 2000 to invest in privately owned startups in the wireless Internet markets.

VantagePoint, which has offices in Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong, funds “transformative companies” in the information technology, clean technology and heath care sectors.

Rho Ventures has offices in Palo Alto, Calif., New York and Montreal. It has experience in information technology, communications, new media, health care and energy technology.

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