Stupid Calculations:
A Tumblr Billion

May 22, 2013 | ANIMAL

ANIMAL presents Stupid Calculations, a continuing series where practical statistics get rendered into utterly useless ones. Look forward to such topics as orange peels, whales, high-priced escorts, elevators, swimming pools, and tears of joy.

Yahoo head honcho Marissa Mayer’s bought a shiny new toy. Or, as the case may be, a softcore porn-glazed one Yahoo’s minions will be tasked to polish.

Our local heroes, in return, will receive an extravagantly large gift box containing 1.1 billion dollars. While a true a billion isn’t what it used to be, it still demands respect…and visualization. Thank Austrian conceptual artist Michael Marcovici for having brought us most of the way with “the most expensive artwork ever made.” It’s a billion dollars of crisp hundred dollar bills tightly bound and stacked. Just add 10% more and you’ve got Tumblr.

But seeing how a billion’s already been envisioned, Stupid Calculations needs to imagine harder. So how about flooding Tumblr headquarters with bundles of cash? Spread across a few floors, their office takes up roughly 21,000 square feet of now-exceptionally-prime real estate. Divide $1.1 billion into 21,000 ft² and it’s $52,380 per square foot.

A nice enough number, but a flat one (and rather less than the cost of canvas). The most crucial thing one needs to know when there’s a flood is how deep it goes. With a standard reserve note coming in at a mere 0.0043 inches thick, this had the potential to thoroughly confuse a sleep-deprived mind trying to capitalize on the fleeting relevance of a Tumblr story. And so we turn to the gold standard for such things: How Much Is a Million?, a Reading Rainbow Book. Extrapolating from dollar bill dimensions, we learn that a billion in hundreds occupies 398. 8 cubic feet. Call it 400 ft³, or 691,200 cubic inches.

A stack of $10,000 in hundreds is .43” deep and about 16 square inches. Work this into the 21,000 ft² and it comes out to be a shade over a quarter inch…ceramic floor tile depth. A bit disappointing, actually. Singles would’ve been the more dramatic choice.

But giant checks or gift boxes of cash are so pedestrian. What if Marissa preferred instead to thumb off hundred-dollar bills into an ecstatic crowd of Tumblr owners? Using the stack of hundreds kept handy around the house, I conducted a test that worked out to a rate of 90 bills per minute. It could certainly go faster, but it’s important to make a little flourish with each flick, a self-satisfied grin spread across the face. 90 bills per minute x $100= $9000. $1.1 billion / $9000 per minute = 122,222 minutes or 2037 hours or 84.87 continuous, no-bathroom, no-sleep days.

And what will she be getting for all this generosity? In addition to the office, it buys 175 Six Million Dollar Men; with 175 employees as of May, the acquisition works out to $6,285,714 per employee. That’s $41,904 per pound in livestock terms (175 employees @ an average of 150 lbs= 26,250 lbs total).

Of course, it’s not so much the office humanity Yahoo’s bought in for but, rather, the stupendous amount of time humanity’s spilled down the tumblr drain. You know who you are. As of May 21st there are 109.2 million blogs and 51 billion posts on Tumblr. If one assigned a figure of two minutes per blog, that’s a 102,000,000,000 minutes. Or 1,700,000,000 hours. 70,833,333 days.

For sake of comparison, the Empire State Building took 7 million man-hours. Tumblr time’s nearly 243 of those.

But who, then, to judge?

You can find Josh at www.stupidcalculations.com and on Twitter here: @stupidcalc.