Blog questions McRobbie’s role in ChaCha

A blog that follows Silicon Valley gossip is implying that new Indiana University President Michael McRobbie had a conflict of interest when IU formed a partnership with Carmel-based ChaCha Search Inc.

The blog, ValleyWag, said the deal appears suspicious because McRobbie had a long history as an IU information technology and research executive before becoming president-and thus was likely to have known the university was discussing a partnership with ChaCha.

McRobbie was a member of the startup Internet search engine company’s board until May. He was interim provost when IU trustees tapped him March 1 to succeed Adam Herbert and stepped into his role as president July 1.

However, IU Vice President for Information Technology Brad Wheeler told the Herald-Times of Bloomington that McRobbie wasn’t part of the ChaCha agreement, and that he informed McRobbie of the partnership in June.

“As acting chief information officer, it was in my purview to make these choices,” Wheeler said.

Founded by tech entrepreneur Scott Jones, ChaCha relies on human interaction as well as technology to help users sift through unwanted material to find information they want online. The IU partnership involves using librarians and technical specialists to assist.

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