Google’s sale of Motorola may have cost them a mere $1.5 billion

January 30, 2014
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In the aftermath of Google’s Motorola sale to Lenovo, some are immediately questioning the monetary loss. Did Google just cost themselves $9.5 billion? Fortunately, no. While there is likely an immediate short-term loss, the longer play could prove fruitful for Google.


When Google purchased Motorola, the final price was right at $12.5 billion. The quick math tells you that, after a nearly $3 billion sale to Lenovo, Google is left with a $9.5 billion punch in the teeth. In Google’s original purchase, they had $3 billion in cash on hand and $1 billion in tax credits. That brings the price at purchase — meaning that which counts against the books — to roughly $8.5 billion.

After a $3 billion sale to Lenovo, we’re right at $5.5 billion. Then we’ll remember that Google quickly sold the Motorola set-top box division to Arris for a cool $2.4 billion shortly after purchase. That leaves us at just over $3 billion, and this is where things get tricky.

motorola-moto-x-front

Google believes the patents they kept from Motorola are worth about $5.5 billion. If that holds up, Google is actually benefitting to the tune of about $2.5 billion in this deal. The big caveat here is whether or not Google is overvaluing those patents. In 2013, a judge rules the patents were worth about $1.8 million annually in licensing. That’s a far cry from $5.5 billion, but also only one judgment -- and over time, they could prove more useful.

Whether or not Google loses financially is yet to actually be seen. Many analysts put the value of the patents Google kept at right around $4 billion, so if they had to actually write it down today, there would be a $1.5 billion loss on the books. Not desirable, but also not something that’s going to shut the doors at Google.


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  • Jak Crow

    What a waste. Google had a chance and they blew it with two lackluster phones instead of releasing something cutting edge.

  • Christopher Robert

    Google is going to let Samsung make the phone now. It looks like Samsung will even get Google Play Edition models for most of their devices soon, since Google is killing the nexus program.

    This all has to do with the Samsung agreement. Its basically a partnership.

  • AgentOrangeChicken

    Phew… that’s a load off of my mind!!

  • Matt

    If I’m not mistaken you subtracted the $3 billion dollar sale twice. Once in the second paragraph (“after a nearly $3 billion sale to Lenovo, Google is left with a $9.5 billion punch in the teeth”) and again in the third (“After a $3 billion sale to Lenovo, we’re right at $5.5 billion.”).

    • NachoKingP

      This. Also, you’re subtracting the cash and tax credits from the $12.5B they spent, but they still spent that.