July 12, 2011

Google Plus should have 10 million users tomorrow and 20 million this weekend

Paul Allen, the Ancestry.com founder, not the co-founder of Microsoft, posted on Google+ last night the results of a "surname-based analysis" which "shows that the number of Google+ users worldwide reached 7.3 million yesterday (July 10) — up from 1.7 million users on July 4th. That is a 350% increase in six days.

More impressive than last week's growth is the astonishing growth in users from yesterday at mid-day to tonight -- a 30% jump. My latest estimate tonight shows approximately 9.5 million users. This suggests that 2.2 million people have joined Google+ in the past 32-34 hours.

I project that Google will easily pass 10 million users tomorrow and could reach 20 million user by this coming weekend if they keep the Invite Button available. As one G+ user put it, it is easy to underestimate the power of exponential growth.

Sampling Methodology

I start with US Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames, I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-U.S. users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious effort, and I haven't updated it since. That is definitely a weakness in my model that I hope to address soon. The ratio will likely change over time.

Since I have been tracking this same cohort of surnames from my first day, I am able to accurately measure growth over time.

I am not claiming perfect accuracy, but I do think the model is sound. A quant has suggested a mathematical formula that I can use to calculate a range of Google users with a 99% level of accuracy, and one of my employees is working on that math now. I hope to include that in future models.

Steve Denning Questions the Google Plus Strategy

Steve Denning is writing his opinion about Google. Steve Denning’s most recent book is: The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace For the 21st Century

Google+ follows a succession of prior Google failures in the social media arena. First Orkut, Then Open Social. Then Wave. Then Buzz. Undaunted, Google+ has now launched Google+. Clearly, Google’s management is determined to do something about the challenge posed by social media such as Facebook. As I noted in an earlier article, Spam Grandma For Cash, in Larry Page’s first week as CEO, he sent a company-wide memo, tying 25% of every employee’s bonus to Google’s success in social media.

The reason why Google has been wildly successful to date in its core business is that its search engine delights us. It helps us do something we really want to do, many times a day. It does it simply, quickly and elegantly. Great! We love it!

Google needs to stop trying to copy Facebook, rethink its mission statement and find new areas where it can delight us.

NBF - Google financial success has been Adwords and Adsense. They have been able to match ads to content more effectively. Google search is a medium to carry those ads. I think Google docs, Google Mail and Google Plus are part of providing services that can directly or indirectly support the ads. I think Steve Denning is wrong.