Powerset Releases Growth Models To Public

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New natural language search engine Powerset, still in pre-launch stealth mode, has had a ridiculous amount of press this year. And while some have said there is too much hype around this company (even me), you have to give them some credit. They are certainly open with their plans, and willing to experiment with new ideas.

An example: they announced Powerlabs, a sandbox for users to suggest and give feedback on future Powerset features. People who sign up for Powerlabs are also promised early news, at least an hour before it is posted on the Powerset blog.

Another example: In May Powerset COO Steve Newcomb talked about how the company was predicting future growth, and posted data on their model on the company blog. When readers bravely requested that Powerset release the model itself, Newcomb complied, saying it would be made available this summer. In a post on his personal blog he said the reason for sharing the models was to show that the company intends to be open and give users unfettered access to information:

As I mentioned before, opening up our modeling techniques is part of a larger goal to begin the process of changing our image of a secretive stealth startup to a completely open company that gives you unfettered access to our product(s), the ability to help us design them and to provide insight into the way we think inside of Powerset.

Today, Powerset published the first in a series of models, with a Flash interface. Company-specific baseline assumptions have been removed or altered, but most of the industry assumptions remain intact.

Neal Mueller (Powerset Product Manager) walked me through the models and how they work. This first set helps a company that intends to index the web whether it is better to purchase, lease or create virtual servers on Amazon EC2. Assumptions about the size and refresh frequency of the index can be changed. Since the model is forward looking, it also makes assumptions about future server power and cost reductions from Moore’s Law.

All of the assumptions can be altered in the Flash interface, and the models can be embedded into other websites (although I could not get it to properly embed here).

Mueller says that at least two more dashboard models are coming – one for unique user forecasting and another one that they are not yet disclosing. The company is asking for feedback on the models, and will clearly take it seriously. Newcomb’s personal email is listed on the front page and he requests that feedback come directly to him.

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