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Monday, January 7, 2008

Googlers Betting With Goobles
By Tony Ruscoe

In his New York Times article, Noam Cohen points to a recently published paper, co-written by Googler Bo Cowgill, outlining what some Googlers may have been doing during their lunchtimes. The paper, titled Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence from Google (PDF), explains how Google ran a prediction market as part of a corporate experiment (which Bo first mentioned on the Official Google Blog in September 2005):

Google’s prediction markets were launched in April 2005. [...] In Google’s terminology, a market asks a question (e.g., “how many users will Gmail have?”) that has 2-5 possible mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive answers (e.g., “Fewer than X users”, “Between X and Y”, and “More than Y”). Each answer corresponds to a security that is worth a unit of currency (called a “Gooble”) if the answer turns out to be correct (and zero otherwise). [...] There is no automated market maker, but several employees did create robotic traders that sometimes played this role.

The report states that out of 6,425 active employees and contractors, 1,463 placed at least one trade. Successful Googlers were then able to convert their Goobles into raffle tickets, allowing them to claim prizes worth up to $10,000 per quarter.

The “Goobles” currency was also spotted on the Google Master Plan white board a few months ago.

[Thanks George R!]


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