Google’s bids for a pool of wireless patents were based on mathematical constants, say sources.
The portfolio of 6,000 patents was auctioned to realise some value from the assets of bankrupt telecoms firm Nortel. During the sale, Google’s bids were based on pi, other constants and the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Google lost the auction as a consortium including Apple and Microsoft made the winning bid of $4.5bn…
The sale of the patent portfolio started as a five-way scrap between two separate consortia and individual firms including Google and Intel. Initial estimates suggested the portfolio would attract around $2bn but the four days of intense bidding saw the total rise sharply.
During its bids, Google picked numbers including Brun’s constant and Meissel-Mertens constant that were said to have “puzzled” others involved in the auction. When bids from rivals hit $3bn, Google reportedly bid pi, $3.14159bn, to up the ante.
“Either they were supremely confident or they were bored,” Reuters’ source said.
It is not clear what inspired Google to draw on obscure mathematics for its bids. However, Google co-founder Sergey Brin is widely acknowledged to be a maths prodigy and the bids may reveal his influence…
Ultimately the portfolio was being fought over by two groups: Google and Intel on one side and the Microsoft/Apple-led consortium on the other.
Reuters completely missed the Third Force analysis, which is – Google is often guided by a sense of humor reflecting the attitudes of the founders.