Google Backs Out Of Clearwire, Liquidates Holding For 47 Million

Back in 2008 as Clearwire was emerging as the new 4G platform, Google invested over half a billion dollars in the Craig McCaw backed start up for 6.5% of the company.

As we’ve seen over the last four years, things at Clearwire didn’t go according to plan.  They constantly shuffled executives and couldn’t hit their mark for service roll out. WiMax was also quickly proven to not be as fast, nor efficient as the upcoming 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution).

More after the break

It appeared in 2010 that Clearwire may have been starting a turn around. They finished their 2010 rollout plans according to schedule however, abruptly at the end of 2010 funds dried up and not a single new market was added for Clearwire’s WiMax footprint. Not only that but Clearwire’s stagnation meant that Sprint’s 4G footprint didn’t expand either.

2011 didn’t look good for Clearwire. Many had started to write WiMax off altogether. In fact Sprint had signed a deal with Lightsquared to build out their own 4G/LTE network. Luckily for Clearwire Lightsquared didn’t seem to have their act together. Lightsquared constantly said they would fix interference problems their network had with government and military GPS but as we all know the FCC found that, that feat was impossible for the Northern Virginia based network company with no network.

Lucky for Sprint, and in turn Clearwire, Sprint had an out for the LightSquared deal and they should walk away pretty much unscathed. Sprint pledged another $1 billion dollar bandaid for Clearwire so that they can work on rolling out their 4G/LTE Advanced network that reaches theoretic speeds of 100mbps down.

Google apparently wants no part of that. Google has already proven they are ready to get into the mobile hardware business with their purchase of Motorola Mobility. They are also testing their own high speed network in Kansas City. Perhaps they want to roll out their own network as well.

Of course they could have just decided to stop the bleeding. Today, Google’s 6.5% stake in Clearwire is worth $47 million dollars, under 10% of what they paid nearly four years ago.

source: TheVerge