Googlamatics. For Those Who Like Conspiracy Theories, or Just Special Big Numbers!

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.

Comments 21 Leave a note

    Martijn Grooten (@martijn_grooten)

    5 – 10 – 20 – 40 – 8(0)?

    I really like this. I think it shows that there is some kind of randomness in prices paid. It’s not like Apple thought the Nortel patents were worth definitely more than $4.49bn and less than $4.51bn – it’s just that they probably thought they were worth “somewhere between 4 and 5 billion”. So why using boring rounded numbers if you can use more fun ones?


    Nice try!

    > So why using boring rounded numbers if you can use more fun ones?
    This is one more reason to love Google :)


    Absolutely I don’t know. But, I’m sure that I agree with the Eugene’s theory: This is one more reason to love Google ☺


    I’ve already asked the readers of my Russian blog and there were a couple of really astonishing findings! Will publish them here in comments after a while..

    Sling Trebuchet

    1) It refers to a (pseudonymous) Flicker photo of Eric Schmidt’s private workspace

    2) One of Schmidt’s other nyms , Martin Harnandez, is ranked the 51,020,408th most common name in the US according to
    Schmidt had been seriously “ranked down” there, presumably because someone had discovered his fake name. He should have used a more common name – like John Smith.

    3) It is left to the gentle reader to find the many other occurrences of the number. Use Bing as the Google algorithms are being secretly tweaked to hide the truth.

    There are wild theories about the number being related to chemicals, but the truth is that the number is associated with Schmidt’s pseudonyms. The number pops up in his on-lin life by pure accident. He believes that the Universe is playing with him.
    The reason that everyone in Google+ is identified by a 21-digit number is that Schmidt is trying to divert attention from his 8-digit fingerprint.

    David Glance

    Microsoft consortium paid $450 million for 882 Novell patents. That works out to $510,204.08 per patent. Same figure that Google paid for the Motorola patents

    Sling Trebuchet

    Yes. And when Schmidt realised that his number had happened again, he went totally apeshit.
    Then it happened then next time they bought patents.
    Google have a bunch of minders keeping him out of sight when the shakes start. Just like Howard Hughes –

    Nick Borovikov



    Interesting. 51020408 in decimal is 11000010101000001001111000 in binary. If we consider 1s as dashes and 0s as dots and treat this entire string as Morse code, we get the string “– . . .. -. -.-. . … – ..- — …” which reads “me incestuos”. Spooky, isn’t it ?


    Oh yes it is!!

    David Glance

    You mean the fact that they can’t spell incestuous (in english or spanish)?

    Sling Trebuchet

    The spooky bit is in the anagrams

    “me incestuos” is an anagram of “centimes sou”
    Centimes – cents – lowest coin value
    Sou – a coin of little worth.
    Google is not actually interested in money per se. This is why they even play with numbers in their pricing and patent buying.

    What are they really interested in?
    “me incestuos” is an anagram of “Coitus Semen”’s not the money. It’s the sex that drives them.

    That’s why they are insisting on real names for Google+.
    Filthy stalkers!!


    Fahmida Y Rashid

    It’s not a big number, but I love Google’s pricing for storage on its Web services. 256, 512, 1024, 2048, and 4096? Always make me giggle.


    it’s all about numbers!

    Sling Trebuchet

    The next in sequence is


    Tell me more about it

    Sling Trebuchet

    512 2048 8192
    Insert a 0 before the last digit of each
    5102 20408 81902
    Delete the duplicating leading digits
    5102 0408 1902

    This is terribly simple and boring.
    The idea of a cosmic number driving Schmidt insane is far more fun.
    Although —- this may be the formula that the Cosmos used :)



    That’s really spooky! :)



    There was one more genius clue from the Russian users:

    510-204 Berkeley area code was started on Feb 04, 1994. Berkeley follows (UTC-08:00) timezone as part of Alameda county in California state. Google got a data center there

    Jim St. Johnj

    insert “0” before the one’s placegholder in 512
    last 3 digits of result is 1st three digits of next power of 2 — 1024
    insert “0” before the one’s placeholder in 1024
    last 3 digits of result is 1st three digits of next power of 2 — 2048
    insert “0” before the one’s placeholder in 2048


    Thanks everyone for discussing this number issue! I really enjoyed your ideas – it made me respect Google even more! I am happy to provide you with a complimentary copy of our products:

    Sling Trebuchet
    Fahmida Y Rashid
    Jim St. Johnj
    Martijn Grooten

    please send me a message via with your contact details.

    Thanks again!

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