As everyone knows, Google is not your average company. It fairly amazes and amuses with its short history of fantastic success (or instills fear and loathing – if Google happens to gobble up your market share). Its totally unexpected projects and even the design of its offices appear mad-hat, slightly odd, or uniquely original, depending on your particular view, but never just average.
Then there are the totally bizarre Googlized numbers.
Let’s start with some amusing arithmetic available from different sources.
At Google they don’t joke with the size of their figures, but do joke – big-time – with which particular figures they use: For its IPO in 2004, the price of the stake sold on the stock market should have come to 2.718281828 billion dollars, which figure is the mathematical constant e. A year later the company sold on the stock market another stake, made up of 14 159 265 shares – a fraction of pi accurate to eight decimal places.
Comedy! And then you might recall the recent story with the auctioning off of Nortel’s patents. Here, Google bid the following three specific sums in succession: $1 902 160 540 (Brun’s constant), $2 614 972 128 (the Meissel-Mertens constant), and $3 141 590 000 (a multiple of pi). But it was ultimately Apple and associates that won the auction – for a whopping $4.5 billion (no mysterious mathematical figure here).
But the fun doesn’t stop there…
In August the company bought a subdivision of Motorola for 12.5 billion greenbacks. And they say it’s all down to patents again (all 24 500 of them). A simple calculation shows that for each patent Google paid exactly $510 204.08.
Let’s rewind half a year and do another calculation – on the purchase of some Novell patents. 882 patents were bought for $450 million in cash, which works out for each patent precisely $510 204.08!
But let’s get back to the fight for the Nortel inheritance…
Here there were more than 6000 patents (the exact figure is not divulged anywhere; even in the documents of the deal itself this figure is protected – deemed “confidential”). However, using the very same magical figure $510 204.08 and the pi bid, the calculation gives us a total of a very plausible 6157 patents!
And indeed, after digging around in different online patent databases we discovered that at the time of the auction Nortel did in fact possessed approximately this many patents! Accounting for some inevitable distortions and inaccuracies in the figures, I think it’s fair to say that here we could all exclaim: “yikes”, “gosh”, “fantastiche”, or “Bozhe”, depending on your being American, British, German, or Russian (sorry to leave all the rest of you out!).
So – what’s so special about the figure 510 204.08? Any guesses?
Or should we farm this riddle out to Dan Brown for the plot of his next thriller?
PS: The name “Google” comes from the mathematical abstraction googol – i.e., the massive number that is a one followed by a hundred zeros. So it would appear that mucking around with numbers – mostly colossal ones – is in Google’s blood. I love numbers. And that’s why I like keeping an eye on Google.