That means that in less than two years, Google shredded 85% of the $13bn paid for Motorola. At the time, the high price paid was excused for the patents, because the business itself did not generate nearly enough earnings to justify the price. Now, if it is true that the patents are part of the deal (the article states they are), it's proof that these did not have nearly the value anticipated.
It's also a big statement on Google's ability to succeed in the hardware market, where they've never seemed to be able to gain real success despite their attempts with notebooks and phones.
Edit: the article states the deal would include more than 10,000 patents. Originally Motorola was estimated to have 17,000 patents at the time of its purchase by Google. So while this is still speculation, and we do not know full details, there's a good chance Google may have cherry-picked the patents they felt were important to retain.
Follow-up edit: the 10,000 patent number comes from this article:
Edit 3: The value destruction here isn't so bad as 85%. See Magicalist's comment below for a good summary - Google picked up a lot of cash, tax loss assets, and $2.2bn from the sale of one of Motorola's subsidiary businesses as part of that $13bn original purchase price. Still a loss but not as dramatic as the headline number.
Motorola had ~$3B in cash when acquired. Google previously sold their set-top box unit for $2.35B and realized about $1.7B in tax benefits from previous losses. However since acquiring it has taken $1.038B in losses, which is $0.67B post-tax. There will be another write down for the lost goodwill less the value of the remaining IP that should be worth very approximately $1B. So including the $3B from Lenovo, they recouped approximately $10.4B of the initial $12.5B purchase price.
Edit: Previous version excluded cash.
Before you start coding or starting a project on this kind of thing please read up on how a company goes public and the reporting requirements and where these things are filed. Also talk to someone in the industry and pick their brain.
I'm in Canada and a requirement for even doing something like business reporting for media is a CSC certificate, which qualifies you for basic knowledge of the securities industry, how to read annual reports and ledgers. Please do the same type of research for the territories and/or countries that you are thinking of working in.
It'll make your projecy more successful.
Unfortunately, the comment isn't editable so I'll add more detail here. The more accurate number is $3.32B in cash and equivalents less ($3.57B in current liabilities - $2.97 in current non-cash assets). This totals $2.72B.
However, I understated the tax benefit. Motorola had a $2.5B reserve against their tax assets since they weren't profitable, which is $0.8B less than my original estimate. So the total error from these two items is an understatement of Google's recoveries by $0.52B, which means they recovered about $10.9B of $12.5B.
Note that there are likely other errors still present in this new calculation due to both lack of information and less than thorough research.
The other question I suspect is how many, and which, of the patents are being passed over.
Yes, this was confirmed in today's reportage.
"Google will retain the vast majority of Motorola’s patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem. "
Also, I've followed Nilay's post on several of these patent issues; he's either wrong or he sensationalizes to fit his narrative. I don't think he's very credible, even with a J.D.
Unless you want to make the leap that they've been holding back all their valuable IP from their patent assertions for some unknown reason, I think it's a pretty safe conclusion.
I just don't see the scenario were you can't do a licensing deal with your opponent but you agree to use you second rank patents in the lawsuit.
Standards-essential patents that have to be licensed on FRAND terms are "worthless" only in the sense that an ongoing income stream is worthless.
The purpose of patents in the smartphone wars is to force your competitors to deliver second rate phones or collect billions in damages. That's what Microsoft and Apple are doing to Android manufacturers. If Google can't retaliate, the patents are worthless in this context.
FRAND patents will never block Microsoft and Apple from using common, obvious functionality on their phones. Therefore they're worthless.
Microsoft have ignored standards and instead patented obvious necessary functionality and user interface elements and mathematical operations. Since prior art and obviousness are a dead letter at the Patent Office and the courts, these are the patents that are useful and valuable.
Essential technology patents based on research and development are worthless. Bounce-to-refresh, search boxes that actually search, long filenames, and other trivial or long known elements that can be forced past exhausted patent examiners are worth everything.
To be fair they got $2.2bn of it back by selling off Motorola's cable STB and modem business.
> At $12.5B, Motorola is Google’s largest acquisition to date. Google paid $40 / share in cash, but received ~$11 / share in cash and $8 / share in deferred tax assets. Thus the value ascribed to operations + patents was about $21 / share, or $6.3B, reflecting a multiple of ~0.5x sales and 12x EBITDA. Now adjusting this further for the $2.35B total consideration Google is expected to receive for the Motorola Home business, we get a purchase price of just under $4B for Motorola's handset business and patent portfolio (17K patents and 7.5K patent applications).
So it seems like it would end up being $1 billion for a bunch of patents. The whole process has been rather weird, in the end.
And Google TV. Let's not forget that huge failure.
"By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded in it."
Google's long game still looks good in this area, IMO.
When we want to watch Netflix, HBOGO, or something on Plex, we fire up a phone or tablet, open the app, and Cast it to the TV. The Chromecast automatically switches the input and begins playing what we asked it to.
@Loki540 - You might be referring to the still in development Chrome extension. We don't use that much but I hear it has to be on a very solid wireless connection. Chromecast-ready apps do not have that problem.
@yetfeo - It only costs 30 dollars, and any app can choose to be a 'Chromecast' app by adding in their API. Our iPads and Android devices all can use the Chromecast and the variety of things we can do with it is superior.
Mostly I use it for Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, and Plex.
Also if you have an Android or iPhone the native application on either device will have the Chromecast icon to fling the video. It's the same icon in Chrome (and maybe other browsers? I'm not sure) to fling from your computer.
1. The streaming isn't system wide. Developers need to incorporate the streaming ability into their apps whereas Apple has it builtin to the device.
2. My parents are unable to understand the concept of "flinging" content; they want it to be a DVR-like device. The AppleTV allows them to rent, purchase, or view previously obtained iTunes content.
3. Music sounds terrible through it. It lacks an optical audio out port so it just uses the TVs speakers which are obviously not great.
4. This is probably a personal issue, but Chrome tab streaming constantly drops out after a short period of time. I've yet to get it working fully.
5. AppleTV can support games being flung to the TV while using the iDevice as a controller. This isn't a selling point, but I'd like my N5 to do the same.
6. My TV (while being a 40" 1080p flat screen) is lacking a USB port so I do have to plug it in.
7. Am I missing where I can stream my Android device's OS on the screen? I know iOS allows you to stream the entire device's OS so you can give presentations and the like.
There are many, many things the Chromecast can't do. It's saving grace is its price point which lessens peoples' expectations but I wouldn't start saying the AppleTV should aspire to be it.
I look at that as a feature. I already have applications I'm comfortable with for browsing and selecting media. I just want a new rectangle to play that media on.
The fact that anyone on my Wifi can access it with their phone, instantly, with nothing to install is a magical experience.
> 3. Music sounds terrible through it. It lacks an optical audio out port so it just uses the TVs speakers which are obviously not great.
HDMI Audio Return addresses that. If your TV and receiver support that (I think most do?), then audio will flow from the Chromecast into your TV and back up the TV's HDMI cable into the receiver.
My Chromecast plays audio through the speakers hooked up to my receiver just fine.
> Am I missing where I can stream my Android device's OS on the screen?
Maybe Chrome for Android supports that? I don't think there's OS level support for Chromecast.
> There are many, many things the Chromecast can't do.
Sure, a boat can't do many of the things an airplane can, and vice versa. They're different devices with very different user experiences.
Does ChromeCast not require an app on the device? I thought it wasn't integrated with the OS.
I have my TV's optical audio out running to my receiver. That way all my HDMI devices (laptops, Raspberry Pi, Chromecast) are hooked directly to my TV and the audio is automatically sent to my stereo system.
> 4. This is probably a personal issue, but Chrome tab streaming constantly drops out after a short period of time. I've yet to get it working fully
I've never experienced this problem.
For point 6, I prefer to plug in the Chromecast to a real 5V DC power source because the USB port on my TV is only powered when the TV is on, and I like that Chromecast can turn on the TV and switch the input itself.
I have an Apple TV, and being able to stream content via Air Play for my local TV network, YouTube, and VLC Streamer was nice at first. And then over the months I slowly stopped bothering with my phone and kept grabbing the Apple TV remote.
Interacting with a TV through a phone or tablet interface, no matter how simple, is just not as nice as looking directly at the screen and interacting.
I watch less shows now because of it — because there are more options only available on my phone. I just can't be bothered to use them.
Chromecast is more intelligently architected than AppleTV (you hand off to Chromecast rather than remote-controlling it) but I suspect AppleTV will address this shortly. OTOH AppleTV works with any remote, and you can use any iOS device as a remote, and AirPlay is wonderful.
Not every TV/monitor supports this since there aren't that many devices out in the field that utilize HDMI power, but if your TV does provide power over the HDMI port then the Chromecast can get everything it needs just from the HDMI port.
In the (European) country that I live in, you can actually buy an Apple TV. Whereas Chromecast simply does not exist.
One can argue all day about how awesome Chromecast is, but if you can't buy it, well, it isn't really competitive. And this has happened with a lot of other Google products which where announced with great fanfare in the past.
Off-topic, I tried to buy a 1-dollar song the other day. This may come as a surprise, but not only Google, but also Amazon were not willing to take my money. Of course iTunes happily accommodated me, as it has always been doing for many years.
It will play your local music content, but only recently whitelisted a few apps capable of playing your own video files (even then the codecs and containers supported by Chromecast are a short list, so be prepared to do a bunch of transcoding).
It's not open for sure. But it's not bad either; at $35 I'm willing to forgive the lack of hackability (I have a linux box on the same TV for that, this thing is just a convenience).
And the UI is basically perfect: pull the phone out of your pocket, play the video using exactly the same apps you're used to, and just click the chromecast button to send it to the TV. No more hunting for remotes; on my TV it will even turn it on and switch to the right input source automatically.
My sisters, Netflix and for my younger sister mainly YouTube and Google Music (which she rarely used before she got the Chromecast, as she has an iPhone and the app just came out for iOS).
Not to mention http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nexus_Q
Notwithstanding the built-in amp, the Chromecast is a pretty narrow superset of the Q at least in terms of features.
Considering they never actually exchanged money a single Q
I still think Smart TV concept and architecture is pretty failed from the market. From SetTopBox to Apple TV to Google TV, whenever I saw there is a box attached to the TV which can receive the TV program from the internet, it looks so weird to me. Maybe that's why it's not popular.
Eventually we need to get the TV be real smart and be controlled by the PC instead of smart phone which requires the Android to be embedded into the TV box in order to render the graphics.
TVs with the ability to show a calendar, play Angry Birds and browse Youtube make sense to me, it seems like a natural progression of the good old set top box. If these new TVs run Google's OS, the company will win sooner or later...
If TV is controlled by PC, I can play internet game on it and watch movies with high quality, like in home theater without the high cost.
Still could happen. (checks calendar...) Nevermind, then.
If this keeps Android from being forked by Samsung, I'd say it's not such a big loss.
* E.g. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/31/us-motorolamobilit...
The patents aren't being sold as part of the deal -- it's officially announced, and Google keeps the patents (or, at least, "the vast majority of" them) but Lenovo gets a license to them. 
 http://motorola-blog.blogspot.com/2014/01/motorola-to-join-l...: "Google will maintain ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures. As part of its ongoing relationship with Google, Lenovo will receive a license to this rich portfolio of patents and other intellectual property. Additionally Lenovo will receive over 2,000 patent assets, as well as the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio."
It says "certain patents", which would suggest a minor amount.
At the time of the Motorola acquisition, it was widely portrayed that they were buying the patent portfolio and that the rest of Motorola was largely dead weight that came along with the patent portfolio. Since they are keeping the patents (but giving Lenovo a license to them), it doesn't seem like that bad of a deal.
As for why Google specifically acquired them? Possibly because a general partner at KPCB (Nest's biggest investor and one of Google's early investors) also holds a seat on Google's board. Nest was one of Google Ventures largest investments and Google Ventures holds a seat on Nest's board. There's nothing like having the seller also be the one involved in the buying decision.
Nest makes great products and has an awesome team. I think they're worth more than what Google paid.
.. considering 1. Motorola had cash on hand and tax credits worth $3B. 2. Google sold Motorola's STB business for $2.4B to Arris. 3. It valued the acquired Motorola patents at $5.5B.
Considering #3 is overvalued by 100%, it still comes to a loss of about $2b. But the gains would not be just monetary as Google now has a patent portfolio to be a stronger player in the smartphones business, and has had a say in the organization of the smartphones hardware segment which it can leverage.
This is the silliest HN thread I have ever seen. All the time it was considered proof that Google is evil that they compete with other makers of Android handsets. People who like Google said from the beginning that Google was forced to buy Google because of the patent wars getting out of hand. Now that claim has been validated.
I am really, really surprised by this HN thread. I've been on HN for 6 years and have never seen anything like it.
If this story is true, Google keeps accrued losses (you can't sell losses with a division). Add cash on hand, the sales of the STB business, and it's pretty far from $13 billion. By some accounting Google would still come out ahead.
But I have trouble believing this story. Given recent initiatives at Motorola, the light seemed to be appearing at the end of the tunnel.
As one aside, Lenova purportedly wanted to bid on Blackberry, but was blocked by the Canadian government for national security reasons.
Edit: The timing is very interesting too. Google reports its quarterly earnings tomorrow, and was known to have spent about $500M on advertizing the Moto X which hasn't been selling well and which must have dragged Google's earnings down. Releasing this news now will help calm investors tomorrow.
Also, can't imagine that Lenovo will continue subsidizing the Moto X/Moto G, so I expect prices to go up once the acquisition completes.
Luckily, by the time the acquisition completes, those phones will be obsoleted by newer models ('completes' will take months, if not years)
Even the very nature of the cell phone is rapidly changing and Google Glass is a useless halfstep with contacts coming right around the corner which will be the real hardware killer.
You did not even make it down to the third paragraph of the article?
Under this deal the search giant will keep the majority of Motorola's mobile patents, considered its prize assets.
Prior to the official company statement, sources stated that up to 10,000 patents were being transferred to Lenovo in the deal, which is the majority of the 17,000 believed to be owned by Motorola Mobility. My comment you responded to reflects what was known at the time prior to official announcement of the deal.
I understand it's often easiest to assume that those around you are stupid, especially on the Internet, but I would respectfully request that you at least consider alternatives to what may appear to you as stupidity, and temper your comments to reflect that possibility.
I'm inexplicably bummed about this. I was excited to see what Google would do long term with Motorola, and I thought the Moto X and Moto G was a great start. I thought eventually, a Google+Motorola powerhouse could provide a nice yin to Apple's yang.
After that, I no longer hated working with the laptop and found it pretty decent.
That said, yes, Lenovo is the definition of a company making "boring" and über-traditional devices.
(very personal impression obviously)
I'm inexplicably bummed about this.
A pretty nice pure Android handset with a $179 full price is insane!
I think Google is a lot more interested in pointing hardware companies in the right direction and then supplying software and online services than in being a hardware company.
Particularly, Google isn't interested in weakening relationships with its hardware partners in, e.g., the OHA being a long-term strategic competitor with them.
The alternative narrative is that they suddenly had a change of heart because of Nest, but why not just integrate or put that team in charge of Motorola if it's about talent?
In any case, the Moto X is a really nice phone. I feel bad for the employees of Motorola and find this maneuvering very "corporate" and un-Googley.
Theory: Google gets offered the opportunity to buy Nest. Either Larry or Sergey gets serious interested. They bought Motorola because they wanted a serious stake in the hardware market. They toss up which is better - Motorola or Nest? They decide Nest is the winner. They realize the valuations are such that they could pretty much just swap Motorola for Nest. But there's a problem: Motorola was also their insurance for making sure they would always have an OEM to make Android handsets. If Samsung ever turned - they would never find themselves unable to secure a Nexus partner. So they go to Samsung, and offer a deal: patents, guarantees of support, probably other stuff: as long as you agree to make Android your flagship each year AND GPE phone version of it. This seems good enough. Motorola not needed any more and they can get a new toy to play with - Nest is the winner.
The biggest red flag I had seen re Google last year were the ads Moto ads with the tag line "A Google company." I could not think of a less Google-like company than an old-line handset OEM.
Samsung was a Nexus partner 1 time. (2 if you count the play edition s4)
They've worked with LG and HTC multiple times.
"Which strategy wins the future: stock buybacks or investing in AI + robots + smart devices?"
I mean it really shouldn't surprise anyone that a VC would be cheerleading expensive acquisitions with no regard for shareholder value or whether it has any hope of making a significant return.
But the real answer to his question is: organic growth. And if you are confident in your ability to create organic growth, then the best way to use large amounts of cash to create shareholder value over the long-term is stock buybacks (assuming you have the cash to fund that organic growth and your shares are undervalued, which in Apple's case, both are true).
Just because very smart entrepreneurs are able to capitalize on an opportunity (search) and turn it into one of the world's largest companies, doesn't mean they can arbitrarily do it again.
For context, you think about a company like Microsoft or Google "diversifying", and, you know, for them it's not enough to "merely" build a $250 million/year business for it to be considered a leg of the metaphorical company stool, instead of just a "hobby". How can you hope to scale up a new core competency to the requisite levels? (It seems "merely" having vast resources is no guarantee of success.)
How many companies the size of Google are NOT heavily diversified? Think GE, 3M, etc.
I know that you thought you were providing a counterexample (which is odd, since I wasn't making some kind of universal claim) but yeah, they are. Branching into groceries represented a pretty bold diversification. I'm pretty sure they've talked about even providing banking services. They're about as diversified as a dedicated brick and mortar retailer can possibly be, and it's not hard to see why: they control their existing niches and they want to continue growing.
Is a company diversified if it operates in related markets in the same sector, like a bank that does retail and business banking? Is a company diversified if operations outside their core business are only a small fraction of their turnover, like an oil company that has a small renewables operation?
If the purpose of diversification is to keep the company afloat if there's a downturn in one market, these properties are important. Being in retail and business banking won't help if the entire banking sector has problems, and 1% of your business won't keep you afloat if the other 99% of your business is sinking.
Just look at their "Products" and "Services" tab on the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung
Obviously they're around since 1930s so they definitely had more time and opportunities to do so :)
Google on the other hand has ads. If you want to be generous you can break it out to search and YouTube. Android is obviously huge, but they don't really make money on it. The interesting thing IMO is that they likely would be making more money if they just stayed friendly with Apple. If apple had 80% market share google would be getting far more search traffic.
Assuming that google keeps the majority of/important patents then they basically bought the patents for $4.74 billion. They sold the "set top" division for $2.35 billion and now they're selling the mobility division for $2.91 billion. They also kept about $3 billion in cash that Motorolla was holding when they bought them for $13 billion.
That's not even counting whatever tax incentives they get from these deals. So all in all, it isn't as bad of a deal as it looks like on the surface (in fact I assume it is what Google was planning from the beginning).
In addition, Motorola likely has many depreciating capital assets, and when the loss was booked by the sale, they can also write those off from their profits. A deal like this will have tons of tax lawyers going through them to maximize their benefits.
"Google will maintain ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures. As part of its ongoing relationship with Google, Lenovo will receive a license to this rich portfolio of patents and other intellectual property. Additionally Lenovo will receive over 2,000 patent assets, as well as the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio."
Sometimes, a company sells a division or wholly owned business because it is either that or massive layoffs, and it's better for morale to write down a few billion dollars than to fire thousands of people.
Even if you're working in one of the profitable businesses, a real chill goes around when the pink slip printing press starts hammering.
Motorola was probably going to go bankrupt before Google bought them. Like Apple when it was bleeding money in the 90s, it needed a way to gain time to reinvent itself. Google's purchase probably prevented mass layoffs in the short term, but has Motorola been given enough time to turn itself around? I dunno. We will see what happens shortly after Lenovo takes control.
Given Motorola's history in the technology industry, it's sad to see them go under. Reminds me of Silicon Graphics, the company that basically invented the majority of the fundamental facets of modern computer graphics, gone, while people gleefully play games on their mobile GPUs unaware of where we'd be without them.
In the interim, Google keeps its hands clean and doesn't enter into the discussions that plague any sort of success in the Chinese marketplace.
I certainly can't think of any way to spin the way this turned out to be positive for Google, but I don't think the absolute numbers will worry them all that much.
I haven't seen anyone here mention that at the time of the acquisition, Motorola was attempting to sue all the other Android manufacturers over its patents; and it was posited that Google was basically forced to buy Motorola to keep them from poisoning the ecosystem.
I assume that not happening was probably worth more to Google than what they would up having to pay for Motorola.
Psychologically, it does help reinforce the idea that Google really doesn't know what it's doing with regards to hardware (although hey, they just paid more for Nest than potentially what they're selling Motorola for).
And what's more important - everywhere he cannot
Google should've given Motorola at least 2 or 3 more years before calling it quits, if they really wanted to gain a foothold in the hardware market.
I don't think Google was ever into Motorola to make it pay. They were there for strategy, and Lenovo can do that too.
(Don't forget that Lenovo just bought IBM's x86 server business, and so is "going big.")
Update, sorry for the bad link http://www.pcworld.com/article/2090680/lenovo-agrees-to-buy-...
Google clearly wants to be a hardware manufacturer: they've been circling the market for a while now, trying different things: they bought moto, they bought nest, they keep doing nexus devices, glass, the ever-growing lineup of google play editions, chromebooks... I don't think they bought moto just to be a bully, or just for the patents.
Google seems to have found a new niche to explore, though. It seems to have circled the 'Internet Of Things' on their todo list quite clearly and seem to be taking no risk of arriving late to the party. In a sense, what Apple did earlier to secure its iPhone launch, is what Google is doing now wrt the IOT. That and the smartphone market seems to be slowing down to a point of maximum saturation. Then there's not much to do for Google with a mid-tier phone manufacturer under its belt with ever decreasing margins. On the other hand, who would be a good ally to have when you were interested in the Internet Of Things? Maybe some manufacturer which produces everything from smartphones, washing machines, TVs to tanks and ships, and which coincidentally also happens to be the biggest Android manufacturer? A slightly cynical me perhaps even sees the Motorola sell-off as some sort of token sacrifice to ease all worries on both sides of the 10 year patent deal (I could imagine Samsung not releasing Tizen as a smartphone OS to compete with Android, but perhaps use it as a basis for IOT-related appliances, whatever those might be, and complement Android rather than fight it).
But that's all speculation from my side, but to be honest, I was yearning for some new technology developments, most of the land has been claimed in the space of smartphone technology and most of the battles taking place nowadays seem to be patent trolls and patent bullies doing what they do best: stink it up for everyone involved.
Wikipedia said of the original Google purchase: "Motorola Mobility has 17,000 patents with 7,500 more patents pending."
> So until then, it’s business as usual. I’m phenomenally impressed with everything the Motorola team has achieved and confident that with Lenovo as a partner, Motorola will build more and more great products for people everywhere.
I'd say this announcement, if true, is downright shocking. Not saying it's wrong, mind you, just that it's very, very surprising. At least from the Google perspective.
Now, Lenovo, OTOH, this seems to fit the "PC Plus" view very well. If this is true, it could be a huge win for Lenovo.
The Mobility move to downtown was supposed to happen in a few months. Google signed a 15-year deal on 750,000 square feet (17+ acres) of office space at the Merchandise Mart. Will Leonovo assume that lease?
I like Google's attitude towards hardware and I want them in the gaming industry.
Last time I checked they declined $25 bln Microsoft offer
Lenovo will never do anything great with the brand. Google had promise.
I wonder how things will go with Lenovo in charge.
Owning Moto's handset business was a goiter on Google, and the lack of clarity on Google's intentions might have been necessary to extract maximum value from this sale, but it was very bad in every other way.
Still, it's a strange/not-so-great move on google's part.
It's sad how a once mighty company is being sold around like a piece of house by some property flippers, and costing the flipper pretty 2 billion too...
Perhaps a patent pact with Motorola Mobility would've been better than buying them outright?
Moto still has Fed/Military contracts as this is why foreign buyers were nto considered the first time around.
This might not go through to completion
> For Rubin, manufacturing is a return to the past. According to a 2007 profile, Rubin began as a robot engineer at lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss and had a brief stint at Apple as a manufacturing engineer before devoting his working hours to developing computers instead. However, robotics remained a hobby, with Rubin both building his own and amassing a collection of robots from Japan.
Hopefully this will make my Atrix and Lapdock more sought after.... and my Xoom..... (perhaps too much Motorola hardware???)