New startup YouNoodle debuted to some first class press coverage this morning – a headline in the NYTimes that reads “A Start-Up Says It Can Predict Others’ Fate.” The really choice quote from the article from CEO/co-founder Bob Goodson is this:
“Give us some information, and we’ll give you some idea of what the company will be worth in five years.”
The best part about the article is that the prediction feature hasn’t launched, so no one can see if it’s for real. For now, the site is a database of startups with very light information. Hardly what I would consider NYTimes material. If not for the investors, which include Founders Fund, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, there’s no way we would have covered this.
The NYT did cover themselves somewhat by bringing in some venture capitalist quotes calling bullshit on the whole thing. “If their tool did such a good job, they’d raise a fund themselves and beat the tar out of us,” said Paul Kedrosky, who didn’t bother to write about the company on his blog.
And he’s exactly right. Just like the people who say they can sell you a book and a seminar to help you get rich quick off of distressed real estate – if these guys found some sort of magic formula that actually predicted the value of a startup down the road, they’d keep the information to themselves and make, well, unlimited amounts of money.
It’s hype and nonsense, and it won’t work. The NYTimes bit on it hard, but our readers are smarter. In a poll that Duncan ran earlier the vast majority say there’s no way YouNoodle can pick winners based on some algorithm.
I propose this as a test – If and when YouNoodle launches this magic predictor thingy, they should run their own founding team through it. If it predicts failure, then it’s spot on and we know it will work.
So far, Goodson says, they haven’t run themselves through the model. Smart move.