There are 1.2 million predictions made on Twitter everyday. Those are numbers that the prediction startup Blubet pulled 2 weeks ago from the service. That’s roughly 5% to 6% of the overall tweets being sent out on any given day, according to their data. So it’s really not surprising that Blubet would want to build its business around this platform.
That wasn’t always the case. When the company started on the idea of Blubet a couple years ago, as an offshoot of the community gaming site dotblu, the idea was that it would be more of a traditional site. But then Twitter exploded in popularity, and Blubet knew that it simply couldn’t ignore the expanding social graph and platform that Twitter offers. So now Blubet is entirely built on top of Twitter. It has its own separate site, but for the site to work as it’s intended, you have to tweet out predictions you make on the site, and get others to participate.
Of course, you can also do this from Twitter, using hashtags or DMs. But the preferred method is to visit the site and fill out a prediction. From there you can assign a value to the prediction which you will win (or lose) depending on how your bet does. And you can also see friend’s predictions and give them a “yes” or “no” comment based on if you think they will come true or not.
The idea here should be fairly obvious: This is all about social gaming. But unlike past social gaming Twitter services like Spymaster, Blubet is being very cautious about what data it sends back to Twitter. For example, it prompts you before you sent a tweet back (which will include a link back to Blubet). If you opt to allow the tweet to go out, that setting will be remembered in the future (but you can always change it). But a key difference with the previous viral games of Twitter is that Blubet does not send DMs to your friends without your knowledge. And it does not currently allow for follow-up comments on prediction posts to get sent back to Twitter (though the site is thinking about that).
If you make a prediction on Blubet, and it comes true, you get the number of points you wagered. If you get enough of these points, you level up. And there is a leader board to determine who is doing the best with their predictions. Right now, it’s run on a honor system, with other users charged with reporting a user if they’re lying about a prediction made.
And while these points don’t exactly translate into real-world currency (something which is a very gray area), there is a chance to use small transactions to get more points in the game. For example, if you pay $5, you get 1,000 ponits. $5 gets you 5,500 points. And $10 gets you 11,000 points. Obviously, this is step one for how the company plans to make money. But there are other plans too, including sponsor-created bets and intelligent automated bet creations.
Blubet founder and CEO Song Kim expects that sports and entertainment will eventually be the two dominant Twitter betting categories. That rings true. Tweeting about a game is one thing, but tweeting about how you think is going to win a game with points on the line, is another game entirely.
Blubet has raised $3.6 million in funding to date. The last round (its series A) came a few months ago led by D.E. Shaw. There is also an impressive roster of people who have invested in the past including Bebo founder Michael Birch and VCs Ron Conway and Jeff Clavier. Kim notes that the company has a low burn rate, and this money should last them a while.
While there are other startups in the prediction space on the web, notably Hubdub, Blubet believes it’s the first to tackle the issue solely on Twitter. And given the 1.2 million prediction number, it seems like a good place to start.
There are also plans to integrate SMS service soon, and plans for both mobile web and apps for platforms likes the iPhone, in the future. Blubet currently consists of 7 employees.