[qi:004] Predictify, a social prediction startup, launched out of private beta today. It’s based on a belief in the wisdom of the crowd, especially when it comes to predicting the future. After all, if nine out of 10 people think the same thing is going to happen, odds are that outcome will occur, right? Well, so the site’s premise goes. Users are lured in with the opportunity to earn a few bucks here and there by offering up their guesses as to the outcome of future events, from which presidential candidate will win the Democratic ticket to the color of Angelina Jolie’s gown at the Oscars.
The site has an ever-changing list of “free” and “premium” questions. The premium questions, sponsored by companies looking to poll the Predictify audience or advertise a product, pay accurate guessers a percentage of the total money offered by the sponsor for their participation.
Guessers offer up answers to non-paid questions as well, and in turn help to “build a reputation” based on the accuracy of their predictions. The more accurate the user is over time, the higher their payouts are on the premium questions.
In order to be eligible for a premium-question payout, users have to provide certain demographic information, such as age, income, political party, and religion. The question sponsor gets to chose which specific information they wish to gather from the user and is allowed to keep the data gathered through that question private. Free questions, meanwhile, poll 100 users at most and the data is made publicly available.
Predictify competes against other social prediction startups, like ZiiTrend (which doesn’t pay users to predict future events) and traditional online survey companies that pay users to answer a series of questions online.
Company founders Parker Barrile and Mike Agnich, currently students at Stanford’s graduate school of business, started their Menlo Park, Calif.-based company in March. CEO Barrile previously worked at Google (GOOG) in business strategy, while CTO Agnich used to work at Zazzle, where he was VP of product technology.
We predict that unless the team finds some popular partners to pay for premium questions, the site isn’t going to last. Paying people to answer questions is a promising method of convincing users to sign up for the site, but the site doesn’t make it clear exactly how much money users can earn. It does, however, note how much the premium questions will pay out overall. It looks as if, currently, most of the premium questions on the site pay out a total of $500 (the biggest payout is $2000). But so far, according to a list on the site, the top-earning users in the private beta have made a total of just $9 . So we’re not really clear how broad of a user demographic the prospect of earning a few bucks for providing predictions will draw.
It’s a challenge Predictify’s founders acknowledge. “It’s absolutely a concern. We believe the Internet population is getting more and more diverse,” Agnich told us. Their belief in the site’s premise, however, remains undeterred. “We’ve taken a lot of time looking at CNN.com,” Barrile added. “They allow users to post comments after the stories, and a lot of those comments are actually folks predicting the outcome. Prognostication is human nature.”