Sunday, February 12, 2017

Google Has a Sense of Humor

Google has a sense of humor. When Alphabet announced that it would buy back part of its own shares, it looked like a standard announcement.

Companies regularly buy back their own stock when they have a lot of money in their coffers or when they have the feeling that their stock in undervalued. 

But what is hilarious in this case is the price of the buy back: USD 7,019,340,976.83.

This number is the sum of 26 (the number of letters in the current alphabet) to the power of the mathematical constant e times one million. It would have been easy (and so boring!) to announce a price of USD 7b, so why not throw in another USD 19m plus to have some fun? Especially when money is not an object!

It is not the first time that Google has some nerdy fun, just look at the name Google itself. It’s a play on the words “googol” which stands for the number 1 with one hundred zeros. It is not the first time that Alphabet had this kind of fun. In 2015, it bought back shares in the amount of USD 5,099,019,513.59. That number is the square root of 26 times one million.

When Google went public, the intention was to raise USD 2,718,281,828 which is 1 billion times the mathematical constant e. Google obviously has a thing for this constant, it also used it when is made its offer of USD 3.14b for Nortel Networks. Unsuccessfully so, the Nortel’s patent portfolio was sold for USD 4.5m.

Stay tuned for the next nerdy announcement!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The War of the Book Fairs

Promoting your book is already difficult, and the War of the Book Fairs in Italy does not help. If we take a closer look, we notice that Italians just love to bicker about soccer, women, politics and any other controversial subject. The German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe already noticed during his Italian travels that “it is incomprehensible how anyone gets along with another person, since quarreling seems to be common denominator among all social classes.

In recent year, the all-powerful Milanese publishers want to make money by creating their own book fair. It would compete with the Salone del Libro in Turin, which after the Frankfurter Buchmesse (The book fair in Frankfurt), it is one of the most prominent book fairs in Europe.

However, during the last few year, Milanese publishers wanted to leverage their success with their own book fair. This in turn triggered the War of the Book Fair Giants. The Italian Minister of Culture acted as the peace maker. He suggested to have the book fair at two cities simultaneously. But cooperation and compromise are not the strong points of Italians, as shown in the 63 governments elected in 69 years…Milan stuck to its guns and the mayor Turin pointed out that Milan organizes the number 1 book fair. The Minister of Culture commented that this is the way wars start, by this kind of rigid attitudes.

So what does this mean in the long run? As a book lover, writer or publisher, visit any well-organized book fair you can. This could mean that you have to buy a ticket to the book fair in Frankfurt, followed by one to Milan as well as Turin. All in all, not too shaby methink.