I tried out for Manifold Markets in May and June 2022. It didn't work out, welcome to the postmortem.

Here's an article by the founders about Manifold, some of this post won't make sense if you don't know anything about prediction markets.


I found out in May that Manifold Markets was hiring. A long shot, or so I thought. But since sending an email with my resume is low effort, I applied.

I don't know if my email was read, but Austin quickly replied to the market I created (above) and my chances "skyrocketed" from 4% to 25%. According to the market.

The video call was scheduled: Normal working hours in the US, 9:30 pm for me. When Austin showed up a few minutes late, I was relieved that he hadn't stood me up. The call was very productive, and afterwards I had a feature to implement as a work trial.

Over the next few weeks, I worked on at the feature in my spare time, also fixing some bugs and making other minor changes to Manifold. On the social side, I chatted with the core team and other users on Discord. It was a generally a good time. 

But it became clear that it wasn't going to work out.

After another call with Austin we decided to part ways. Someone from the core team took over the feature, but it was scrapped after a week.

The Feature

The feature was chosen semi-spontaneously during the call. The goal was to allow markets to be resolved by mechanisms than the market creator – an API, a rule, or by other person(s). In its entirety, this was way too much to get into the project. But it worked as a direction.

It became clear (to me) that the most pressing problem was abandoned markets: Markets where the "money" was stuck because the market creators had (apparently) left the platform.

The exact specifications went through a few iterations, and this is what I settled on in the end:

Automatic resolution means that unresolved markets get resolved as 'MKT' (paying out investors according to the current odds) at a specified date. By default that date is 1 week after the market closes but it can be modified by the market creator.


What went wrong

First things first: This might not have worked out if I had done everything perfectly. I wasn't the perfect person for the job.
But I think there was a better than 50% chance that it would have worked out.

My first mistake was the very first thing: Applying for a job or project has a high expected value. I should have taken the time to do it right. I didn't.

This didn't have an immediate effect because the call with Austin still happened. But I didn't properly communicate that I was a mathematician – which I later learned Manifold was kind of looking for. Maybe that would have worked better?

The first definite mistake was not getting to know the team. After talking to Austin, I thought it would be enough to drop into the #dev-and-api channel on Discord, but it quickly became clear that I should have discussed the feature with the rest of the team. It also doesn't hurt to know the people you might be working with. I think there are daily meetings, but I never went, and I never found time when someone was in the lounge.

Also: I should have taken time off from my full-time project! You can get a lot done in a 40-hour work week. Spending ?? hours (maybe even 40?) on evenings and weekends is fine for fun projects, but not for a work trial.

And finally: I never set up my development environment in a way that really works for me. While it may be time efficient not to do it for a single feature, it makes programming much more burdensome.

Checklist for next time

  • Be realistic about my chances
  • Write applications seriously
  • Get to know to the team
  • Don't try to juggle multiple things
  • Optimize the work environment

Still considering me for your project?

Go ahead and contact me! I'm self-employed, so it should be easy to work something out.

Hard skills: My strongest skill is C# / .NET (not what Manifold uses) and I have a diploma[1] in mathematics.

Soft skills: I'm conscientious and willing to go the extra mile. I'm easy going and also know my way around in a business environment.

Closing remarks

I need to work on calibrating myself. Initially I thought I had a 4% chance of making it. More realistic would have been 25% (with avoidable mistakes) or 50%+ (without).

Working on Manifold Markets was fun but also scary. I realized how different it is to work on something that I care about and with a small team. I'm looking forward to working on the next project I'm passionate about and failing less.

Thanks to the Manifold Markets team and especially Austin for making this possible.

And sorry that you had to wire money to the EU - there were several attempts that didn't work through no fault of anyone.

  1. ^

    German equivalent to Masters

New Comment