Was everyone at Google stoned when the company was placing bids on a collection of Nortel Networks patents that it could've really used? Because here are three of their bids: $1,902,160,540; $2,614,972,128; $3,141,592,653. Yes—that last one is Pi billion dollars.
The other two—as nerds will recognize—are, The Guardian writes, "Brun's constant (the number obtained by adding the reciprocals of the odd twin primes) and the Meissel-Mertens constant, another prime-related number." It is, of course, a cute bidding strategy—look how adorably geeky we are!—but it would have been a lot more endearing if they hadn't lost. Especially because they needed those patents:
The patents relate to a number of communications protocols and methods which are increasingly useful, including so-called 4G communications, or "Long Term Evolution", and will therefore mean that their owners can extract licence fees from companies which want to use them. For Google, which faces a court challenge from database giant Oracle over its Android mobile operating system in which Oracle is seeking damages of $6.1bn, having the patents might have been a way to fight back - or at least bring in revenues from other companies in the mobile space
Of course, Google didn't lose because it bid pi; it lost because it didn't want to go over the winning $4.5 billion bid, from "Rockstar," a consortium of six companies (Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry manufacturers RIM, EMC, Ericsson and Sony). If they're willing to be a little looser with cash next time, they should go with the Feigenbaum Constant—$4,669,201,609.