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Alphabet Hid a Google-y Math Joke in Its Stock Buyback

Alphabet + revenue = buybacks.


Of course it did.

The biggest news to come out of the third-quarter earnings from Google’s Alphabet, which were announced on Thursday, was the company’s first shareholder buyback. Alphabet’s board (same as Google’s) authorized a repurchase of its Class C shares. (Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hold most of the controlling B shares.)

The exact number of the share repurchase was funky: $5,099,019,513.59

It’s a math joke. There are 26 letters in the alphabet; 5.09901951359 is the square root of 26 an alert reader reminds us. A funnier way to consider it: Alphabet’s gross revenue in the period was $18.7 billion; the square of 5,099,019,513.59 is expressed as 2.6 times 10 to the power of 19, or some such.

Google has long had a habit of these geeky jokes. Seems the name change hasn’t really changed anything.

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