Over on Google+, Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen claims that by Tuesday, Google's new social website will have surpassed 10 million users, and will likely reach 20 million users by the weekend.
According to Allen, 1.7 million users had already filled the Google+ halls by July 4, just days after the social website went live on June 28. Google intended to launch the site with a limited amount of users, but a loophole in the invite system allowed users to sneak in friends and family whether they were previously signed up for access or not. Eventually Google caught on and closed the invitation system altogether, but by July 10, 7.3 million members had already been assimilated into the Google+ collective.
"The userbase is growing so quickly that it is challenging for me to keep up, since the number of users of any given surname (even the rare ones I am tracking) seems to be climbing every day," Allen admitted. "More impressive than last week's growth is the astonishing growth in users from yesterday at mid-day to tonight -- a 30-percent 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."
So how does he come up with these numbers without sitting behind the scenes at Google HQ?
"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," he said. "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," he added. "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."
With so many users flocking to Google+ at such an exponential rate, does this mean that silence is finally settling in over at Facebook? The social website may be getting a bit nervous. Last weekend, Facebook employees began to infiltrate Google's social stronghold. Facebook director of product Blake Ross was even seen asking those who added him on Google+ to also add Facebook vice president of user feedback Naomi Gleit so that users can suggest their "wishes and wants for Facebook and turn them into reality."
Later that week, Mark Zuckerberg revealed video calling for Facebook, but the service still isn't up and running; currently users are greeted with a message stating that "video calling will be available soon, please check back later." That's not the case with Google+, as the video "hangout" function works wonderfully well.