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Attitude at altitude


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In less than six months, Boulder-based Prediculous has harnessed the wisdom of the crowd to predict everything from bowl-game winners to the extradition of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, and even nailed 90 percent of the movie awards in the Golden Globes.

The online social game uses predictive markets - typically reserved for finance - to turn the predictions of many into a percentage game that pays off in points.

Co-founder Taylor McLemore compares the concept to a "fantasy stock market," noting that the game is based on a complex algorithm. "We think there's a new wave of social games coming," he says, "and we want to be at the forefront of that with something that's intellectual and not concerned only with harvesting more virtual crops."

McLemore says he drew inspiration from the book, "Wisdom of the Crowds" by James Surowiecki, which posits the theory that diverse groups are more intelligent than any one individual. McLemore and co-founders Andrew Walker and Howie Spielman, who respectively serve as CEO, CFO and CTO, thought the idea made the perfect match with an online social game and launched the company, Tiger Falcon LLC, last August.

Players log in through Facebook, but their moves are not visible to friends unless they choose to make them so. Starting with a cache of points, players make wagers on the outcomes of sporting events, world events and most anything else.

"It's very addictive," says Charlotte, N.C., attorney Will Cannon, an avid early Prediculous adopter. "The beauty of the game is that there's always going to be something new to bet on - how many points will LeBron score tonight, what city will host the Democratic National Convention, will Obama attend Prince William's wedding? It's like trivia night at your local bar, except there's no last call."

The business model calls for Prediculous to generate revenue by selling players "virtual assets or virtual goods," McLemore says. Currently, the company is encouraged by a growing user base of more than 3,000 players who spend an average of 30 minutes on the Prediculous website each week, a notably high metric.

The company is also developing niche Prediculous Channels, such as Prediculous.com/Cobizmag or Prediculous.com/CUIndependent, where each channel's audience predicts relevant events too specific for the broader game. Channels are free to set up; Prediculous wins by expanding its user base.

Currently, Prediculous generates its own questions, but a new "Suggest a Question" link has been added to the site as the ultimate goal is to crowd-source the questions about events as well as their predicted outcomes.

"It's a predictive game where people can compete with their friends," McLemore says. "There's a whole new intellectual side to social gaming coming."
Pick the outcomes of the Denver mayoral election, the possibility of an NFL lockout, and other Colorado-centric events at  www.prediculous.com/cobizmag .
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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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