Demo presenters bet on predictive capabilities

A pair of startups are hitting Demo 2008 with prognostication as part of the high tech tool set

The uncertain prediction market will get a new player this week when Hubdub introduces a combination news aggregation and predictive platform at the semi-annual Demo conference in California.

Demo conferences this year will bring on stage 77 companies with a good idea but not enough capital to present their products to an audience consisting of VCs and executives from the investment arm of high-tech companies. Hubdub will try to convince one of these audience members that they will not be taking a chance by investing in its technology.

The Hubdub platform creates a market around news events, such as how big will the final tax rebate be once it is signed into law by President Bush. Along with the question comes a selection of multiple choice responses.

Yes-or-no response questions are also possible, such as Will Barack Obama gain the Democratic Presidential nomination?

The community wages Hubdub dollars to compete on predictions.

The point of the game is to see who comes out right most of the time. If you are one of those folks, according to Hubdub officials, you will obviously gain street cred in your area of expertise -- politics, stock market, or technology, for example. Besides gaining some form of respect from your peers, credibility may also lead to more users coming to your Web site or blog. This is turn, in theory, could be shaped into a business where a person's analytical capabilities are worth paying for.

During the prediction and wagering process, the Hubdub site aggregates news stories and background data related to the predictions.

Leveraging uncertainty appears to also be the idea behind another Demo presenter, LiquidPlanner, a start up created by former Expedia, Microsoft, and Intel software engineers.

What makes LiquidPlanner different, say company officials is its use of "probablistic" scheduling tools.

Rather than using project dates that are set in stone, the Liquid probablistic engine uses estimates which take into account project variables. This allows project teams to see a more dynamic timeline and understand at any single point in time where the project is headed with the idea that heading down a wrong path can be stopped before it is too late.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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