When one corporate fish swallows another, a lot can happen. Sure, temporary indigestion, remorse, culture clash, layoffs, posturing, Borg assimilation, chaos, panic, flight, or even disaster may ensue. More likely the carnivore hiccups and life moves on. But, in rare cases, the kid fish just so happens to be a visionary thinker and kickbutt coder with exactly the right skills and temperament to turn mama into a bigger, badder, better, and youthier fish, newly invigorated for survival in the pond. Witness Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie and Yahoo!’s Flickr-ization.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Bix at their (old) headquarters in the heart of downtown Palo Alto. These folks are impressive. Simply put, they build cool stuff, fast. The typical product cycle?: Two weeks. They grok the rinse and repeat development cycle of the new web world and, more importantly, have the experience and talent to pull it off. Oh, and this can never hurt: they’re supremely smart.
Case in point: Two supremely smart Bixies — John Hayes and Mike Speiser — developed a supremely cool prediction market from the ground up in about two weeks of spare cycles. (To predict the American Idol winner, of course: what else?) Check out the brilliantly simple one-page UI, powered by ajax-ian magic. The attention to detail is clear, from the inline sparkline graphs, to the minimalist yet clear descriptions.
Under the hood, the site is running independent Hanson market makers for each contestant. The payoff structure is designed to predict a full ranking, projecting the eventual winner as well as the expected losers each week. Play around with it and see what you think. John and Mike would love your feedback — to a large extent user reactions will drive where this project goes next.