Above the Fold - Reflecting on 2023
Reflections, upcoming plans, and user recognition
Happy New Year to all the rich new money and broke losers that were brought about by the wave of EOY resolutions!
For the first newsletter of 2024, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what a year we have had, plans for Q1, and some well-deserved recognition of beloved users!
Reflecting on 2023
Manifold has come a long way in the past year. I skimmed through some of our daily standups from January 2023 and was bemused by what I saw. Was this really only 1 year ago?
This time last year we were:
Attempting to iterate on Maniswipe, a Tinder/TikTok-like swiping interface for betting on markets.
A Twitch integration where streamers could feature a market on screen and have users bet through chat commands after linking their accounts.
A lot of bug fixing.
This embarrassing mistake: “FYI, we spent >$3,000 because of the one guy who spammed comments”.
Creating TikTok and Youtube shorts to experiment with marketing Manifold.
And while all of those were unsuccessful experiments, we have rolled out so many features in the past 12 months!
I wanted to share an excerpt from Stephen’s latest investor update which does a wonderful job of highlighting some of our wins from this past year.
In the space of a year, we’ve accomplished a lot: we’ve doubled our DAUs, 5x’d our MAUs and total users; had 43.7 million page views; 1.8 million site visitors; sold $142,000 in mana to over 1,700 distinct customers; and created over 73,000 markets.
We’ve transformed our core platform from a buggy and slow prototype to a full-featured, fast, and reasonably polished product.
We’ve innovated on market mechanics and liquidity provision with our new multi markets, made news a first-class feature of the site, added gamification in the form of competitive monthly Leagues, and launched dozens of other features.
We’ve Manifested—i.e. hosted a pioneering conference that many have said is the best they’ve attended in their lives with luminaries such as Nate Silver, Robin Hanson, Byrne Hobart, Patrick McKenzie, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Destiny and many other notable names.
We’ve established ourselves as a credible epistemic institution on the world’s most pressing questions (SVB bankruptcy, Trump indictment, superconductors, OpenAI board drama, Israel-Hamas war, US & global elections), and received positive coverage in the New York Times and from many other respected journalists and thinkers: Matt Levine, Joe Wiesenthal, Tyler Cowen, Matt Yglesias.
We’ve launched an entire new dating app that has become infamous in the Bay Area.
Plans for 2024
This next year will likely make or break Manifold. I’m somewhat biasedly forecasting the prior as we look to witness Manifold’s transformation into a sustainable business.
Manifold Politics & micro-niches
With the tailwind of the 2024 US elections, we’re planning to make a big bet on Manifold Politics, a separate subsite devoted to US politics with a more accessible UI and politics-focused branding.
Current Manifold is an amalgamation of social media, markets, user content, manipulation schemes, gamification, jokes, and serious news. This makes Manifold a harder sell when you open it to show your politically savvy uncle but the first market he sees is about semi-conductors, GPT puzzles, Destiny’s personal life, and rationalussy. But what if we take all we have learned and redesign a site using prediction markets for the average political consumer from the ground up?
This also represents an important shift in our overall strategy: we now believe that the best path to growth might entail building experiences around more specific niches (politics, sports, gaming, etc.) rather than being maximally general. So expect once we find what works well for politics to be replicated to the main site or other new niche sub-sites.
We know how smart, handsome, and most importantly, rich y’all are so you better hold your wallets tight.
While experimenting with monetisation is a key goal for Manifold in 2024, don’t worry, as our current free-to-play model is unlikely to change. But, we might flaunt an $8 subscription in your face which justifies adding exclusive power-user tailored features. We are also eager to think about novel forms of monetisation such as Manifold careers (where we match you with potential employers) or other value-generating propositions.
And, after all, we are a site that emphasizes putting money where your mouth is, so how about putting money where your heart is (Manifold) as well?
I’m personally excited to spend more time flushing out the moderation structure and putting more power into the hands of the users. Over the past month, I’ve started to allow mods a lot of freedom to use their discretion under loose guidance. This has worked better than I expected and just needs to be clarified and made sustainable.
However, we still want to preserve the sense of ownership that comes with creating your own market. I still hold a conviction that we are more similar to any other user-generated platform such as YouTube and TikTok than people realise, and is a key to our success compared to other news and prediction sites. This model only works if people are excited and proud to post content, and we just want to be careful mods don’t cast too heavy a touch.
Aside from moderation, we do want to find more ways to engage users in events similar to the Manifund community fund. If you have any ideas you’d be really excited to see I’d be eager to hear them!
With Manifest 2024 looking likely, we can’t wait to see you at some of our upcoming events!
Coming up first is Bet on Love, a live dating show where potential suitors compete to woo Aella while the audience bets in real time on who seems the most promising. If you fancy your shot it’s not too late to sign up as a suitor! We’ll be selling tickets shortly too.
I’m also hoping to host a high-stakes charity poker match where we invite some of the most elite poker players and other personalities to raise money for effective charities while marketing Manifold. This would likely be in May, although it’s still not 100% how feasible it will be.
Recognising our users
I wanted to show some appreciation to specific community members for all they have contributed. I sometimes feel we don’t deserve such wonderful users.
This list definitely has recency bias towards the end of the year, so sorry if I’ve missed you out for earlier contributions.
The wonderful mod team who have all amazed me with how engaged you are. But, particularly Evan, Joshua, and Eliza who spend borderline unethical amounts of time helping out.
MartinRandall, jack, FranklinBaldo, Predictor, SG, and SneakySly who all have streaks of over 495. Shoutout to the other 40 users who also maintained their streak throughout the entire year!
SirCryptomind who resolved 684 markets in just the last 3 months since we started storing the stat.
BTE and FirstUserHere for being the top two creators with 1634 and 1489 markets created respectively.
Sundry for being a positive mediator, great role model, and pushing Manifold to a be a more welcoming place for all. Check out her peace awards which recognise many of the names listed here and more!
NathanYoung for all he is doing in the prediction market space and the initiative he regularly demonstrates (shoutout to the other NathanYoung too lol).
Isaac King for his advanced search.
Can’t wait for another year with you all!
(With small bits shamelessly stolen from Stephen’s investor update)