Good Lord my Google-Motorola “rope-a-dope” theory was wrong as hell

A while back, when Google announced it was buying Motorola Mobility, I posited a theory that Google had pulled a “rope a dope” on Apple and Microsoft by pretending to compete for a set of Nortel patents. Google, I asserted, must have known all along that it was going to buy Motorola and get its huge stash of patents, and was just bluffing in the auction for the Nortel patents, tricking Apple and Microsoft into vastly overpaying for those patents.

Many people, including most notably my good friends John Gruber and M.G. Siegler, pointed out at the time how absolutely head-up-the-ass stupid my theory was. And it turns out they were right.

Thanks to SEC filings, it’s now coming out (in stories like this one at the New York Times) that Google reached out to Motorola after losing out on the Nortel patents. Money quote:

In early July — mere days after Google lost out to a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft — Andrew Rubin, the company’s senior vice president of mobile, reached out to Sanjay Jha, the chief executive of Motorola Mobility, to discuss “the possible impact of and potential responses” to the Nortel purchase.

I think I’ve become such a big fan of Android, both as a product and a phenomenon, that I’ve started thinking Google people are more clever than they really are.

I am heading off to a Jesuit Dominican retreat for a few days of corporal punishment and meditation so that I can try to get clear again.

Many thanks to all who have pointed out the errors in my thinking.

11 Responses to “Good Lord my Google-Motorola “rope-a-dope” theory was wrong as hell”

  1. Louis Bianchi

    Why the Jesuits? Try the Franciscans, I hear that they have more effective tools for self flagellation.

  2. Brent

    Mmm… your article was more than “positing a theory.” You pretty much summed up the entire episode as fact, though you had no sources to back you up. And you either ignored or just weren’t paying attention to the news running up to Motorola purchase — all of which basically pointed to the same conclusion: Google was desperate for patents. Your theory was from another universe at best, or revisionist at worst.

    Still, I get the exuberance thing. When you’re excited about a company and product, it’s easy to go overboard.

  3. Jeff DeChambeau

    Saying that Siegler or Gruber did something successful beyond breathing must be a hard pill to swallow. Don’t beat yourself up, Dan, the theory fit the situation.

  4. Andy

    Never really sure when you’re being sarcastic, dammit. Pretty big of you to actually ‘fess up to being wrong thought. I’m sure the self-flagellation will be good for the soul…

  5. Kevin Kunreuther

    Not many are big enough to admit they goofed [SCO vs IBM and world, anyone?] . As an act of contrition, say eighty-three Our Fathers, ninety-eight Hail Marys, and step away from the iPad for six weeks.

  6. Nick

    Not sure why you discard the possibility that coming to Sanjay was always a plan B. Its like in chess, sometimes you position yourself so you can not lose. You may not force your opponents to do any particular move, but whatever they do, they just get more in trouble.

    Now, once you decide you need to buy Motorola, of course you come to the CEO and try to scare him into selling. It is a great American business tradition, the price gets better, and frankly, you have seen what happened at Yahoo when the leadership felt too confident.

  7. Dave Thackeray

    I always feel small and insignificant posting suggestions and observations on this blog when surrounding with sentients of unquestionable intellect. It rarely stops me from doing so, however.

    Today’s missive is unerringly simplistic in approach: Dan, despite all the furtive moments we’ve shared putting Double D Guys shows together, I never – not even for a heartbeat – believed you were a fan of the big G, in any sense. I thought when I agreed to ship that medication you can’t buy in the US, across the Atlantic, it would issue an arrest to your delusional temperament. Do you want me to up the dosage?

    Whatever next? An admiring glance in the direction of BUILD?



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