Every now and then I go check out online prediction market intrade to see what wacky things people are making wagers on. I was pleasantly surprised to see a plethora ("I just would like to know if you what a plethora is!") of tech-related events.
People (well 2 of them at least) are unsurprisingly expecting that Facebook will at long last go public in 2012. Nothing surprising there. The two traders willing to bet on this are pricing in a 90% chance that an IPO will happen next year. No bets on what the ticker symbol might be though. FACE is taken but BOOK and FB are available, as well as my personal suggestion: ZUCK.
But a Facebook IPO isn’t the only thing you can bet on. You can also put some money down on whether the Zuckerberg biopic will win the Academy Award for Best Picture. (Disregard the fact that the Oscar nominations haven’t been released yet. UPDATE: The noms came out Tuesday morning and it’s no shock that “The Social Network” did get a Best Picture nod.) “The Social Network” is the clear favorite, with 62% predicting a victory. “The King’s Speech” is second with 32%.
Facebook isn’t the only company that intrade has contracts on though, however. There are some contracts (although with no volume as of yet) for how many iPads and iPhones Apple will sell as well as one for Netflix subscriber growth.
But my favorite (for its sheer goofiness) is a contract on whether somebody will win the Google Lunar X prize by the end of 2012. In case you’re not a space geek like my colleague Julianne, Google and the X Prize foundation are offering up to $30 million in prizes to privately funded teams that successfully send a robot to the surface of the moon, have it travel at least 500 meters and relay images back to Earth.
Traders are not optimistic that this is going to happen anytime soon. They are pricing in a mere 15% chance that Larry Page and Sergey Brin will have to pony up any cash by the end of next year. Perhaps there should be a separate contest to send Eric Schmidt to the moon? Hmmm. - Paul