WHAT'S UP? (AND WHAT'S DOWN?)
Entrepreneur|December 2021
What’ll happen to the price of advertising? Will more female founders get funded? We had Good Judgment’s superforecasters answer these questions and more.
LIZ BRODY

In the previous story, we told you about the forecasting company Good Judgment and its worldwide team of superforecasters. Now it’s time to put them to the test.

Their crystal ball is pretty fancy, based on science and a system that has helped them, outpredict competitors, for 10 years. But posing questions to them requires finesse. That’s because in the land of forecasting, language really matters.

Good Judgment’s CEO, Warren Hatch, remembers the time his team was asked, Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile? “As it turned out, Kim Jong Il pressed the button and it exploded on the pad,” he says. “So did it launch? Well, if you’re a policy or political analyst looking for attempts, yeah. If you’re a defense analyst looking for capability, it did not. So getting the question right, so that you’re forecasting the same thing, is critical.”

Entrepreneur submitted five questions. Hatch’s team helped rewrite them for specificity, and then posted them on Good Judgment Open—a free platform where superforecasters and anyone else can mingle and forecast the future. (You can even try it yourself! Visit gjopen.com.) Our questions prompted immediate debate, and forecasters tinkered with their answers as new information came in. On the following pages, we’ve compiled the results (with some insightful number crunching from Good Judgment’s data scientists).

Here, in the best estimates of some of the world’s top forecasters, is how things will play out.

Will more startups launch in 2022, or fewer?

The answer is both up and down: It’ll be more than 2020 but fewer than 2021. Here’s how we phrased the question to the superforecasters: How many business applications will be made in the U.S. in 2022? This allowed the team to drill into the specific trends of business applications, and 85 percent of the forecasters concluded that there will be more than 4.8 million new applications.

Let’s put that into context. The pandemic turbocharged entrepreneurship, and nearly 4.5 million applications were filed in 2020—a 24 percent jump from the previous year. The numbers aren’t in for 2021 as we write this, but the forecasters almost unanimously (98 percent) believe applications will have spiked to 5.5 million or more. In 2022, however, they believe that number will fall back down a little.

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