AT&T Gets Chummy with ChaCha, Also Cuts 12,000 Jobs

AT&T and ChaCha are teaming up with a new “strategic relationship” announced this week. Oh yeah, and in an unrelated but unfortunately timed move, AT&T is also laying off 12,000 of its workers.

The ChaCha Deal

The extent of the AT&T-ChaCha agreement isn’t quite clear. AT&T says it will now have a “co-branded greeting” and other AT&T promotions when users phone into ChaCha’s 1-800-2-CHACHA voice service. It also says the two will “work together to further enhance ChaCha’s free mobile-answers service and explore opportunities in both text and voice ad-based services.”

ChaCha, as you may know, offers free human-powered answers on anything via a voice call or text message — the latter of which I would guess is the more popular option. It’s a novel service and could come in handy. I gave it the ol’ smartass test a while back and found its operators to have pretty good senses of humor at times, too.

AT&T Layoffs

Unfortunately for AT&T, the ChaCha announcement is largely being overshadowed by new word of wide-reaching layoffs. The company said Thursday it will cut 12,000 jobs — about 4 percent of its total workforce — in an effort to “streamline” operations and deal with financial woes and business changes.

The cuts will start this month and last through 2009. AT&T hasn’t mentioned any specifics as to who’s getting the ax but does say it plans to add jobs in some areas at the time. Its wireless, video, and broadband divisions are expected to expand. Still, AT&T is projecting a 12 percent drop in spending in 2009, compared to 2008.

AT&T’s shares have fallen by almost a third over the course of this year.


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