Any serious Internet startup tries to guess early growth rates so that they have enough hardware to scale (hopefully the software hangs in there, too). Stealth search engine Powerset (see our earlier coverage) is being very transparent about their modelling, and have posted some of their thinking on their company blog.
Steve Newcomb, co-founder and COO, wrote the post and goes into considerable detail as to how they built the predictive model. The graph above shows Newcomb’s model as applied to a competitor – Snap.com, after the new Snap Preview Anywhere release and its re-launch of its product.
The shaded area shows predicted growth and the actual results are shown by the blue line. Not a bad job, although I assume they tweaked the model quite a bit to make it fit.
Powerset should publish the model itself (without the specific Powerset assumptions of course) and let other startups tweak it for their own use. Most new companies don’t have the excel jockeys or the time to do this kind of work. Any competitive issues would be overshadowed by the considerable goodwill (and link juice) they’d get from doing this.