Auctionomics’ Dr. Paul Milgrom Wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Paul Milgrom
Paul Milgrom

Silicon Valleybased Auctionomics‘ Co-founder and Economist Dr. Silva Console Battilana, Praises Milgrom for His Work in Complex Multi-billion-dollar Markets and Championing Female CEO Presence

[Palo Alto, California], October 12, 2020 – Some Nobel prizes are awarded for purely theoretical work, but Professor Paul Milgrom’s work, in partnership with co-founder Dr. Silvia Console Battilana, has changed the lives of everyday consumers across the globe. Each time that you use a cellphone, your mobile operator uses a certain bandwidth to transmit that information, something like invisible highways in the sky. The rights to access those imaginary highways are sold worldwide in spectrum auctions.

These auctions exist because Professor Milgrom and Bob Wilson asserted that it was possible to do so and he offered the world a blueprint for successful spectrum allocations. It was believed impossible, however, Paul walked into the Federal communications commission with a floppy disk showing how it could be done. However, his Auctionomics co-founder, Dr. Console Battilana, asserts it’s not only his disruption of economic markets that should be celebrated. In a male-dominated field of multi-billion dollar auctions, he was the only one betting on a (then only 29!) women as CEO, hopefully opening the door to others to come.

On Monday at 2.15 am, Professor Paul Milgrom was sleeping and his phone was off. Luckily, Bob Wilson, the other Nobel winner, is his neighbor and went to wake him up, and the event was captured on his nest camera that day.

Dr. Console Battilana was getting a similar wake-up call from Yago Saez, head of software at Auctionomics. Saez excitedly told her, “This is the call.”

“I said, ‘What call?’. To which, Yago says, ‘The call.'” Dr. Console Battilana recounts. It was an exciting moment not only for Dr. Milgrom but for Dr. Console Battilana as well. Soon after Bob, Paul and Silvia were celebrating in the backyard.

Auctionomics, the company co-founded by Professor Milgrom and Dr. Console Battilana 12 years ago, came to be during the financial crisis of 2008. At this time, the U.S. Department of Treasury called Professor. Milgrom because they were interested in his advice on how to auction off the distressed assets. Professor Milgrom had a patented auction design, the Milgrom assignment auction, that would have worked perfectly for a treasury bailout auction. In response to the Treasury Department’s request, Milgrom invited Dr. Console Battilana for a coffee at the iconic Silicon Valley Coupa Café, to ask her to be his co-founder. This is the same café appearing in the original movie about Facebook.

Dr. Console Battilana had been his Ph.D. student and had already started a different company during her studies. They co-founded Auctionomics, a high-end consulting and software company that designs complex markets and advises bidders in multi-billion-dollar markets.

Although the Treasury Department didn’t use the technology, Professor Milgrom and Dr. Console Battilana continued to work together, building a larger team of economists, computer scientists, and finance experts. Two years ago, Auctionomics designed the incentive auction for the U.S. federal communication commission, raising $19 billion for the American taxpayers, the largest spectrum auction in history. Paul’s auction designs have been used worldwide, raising more than 100 billion.

For Dr. Console Battilana, Dr. Milgrom’s Nobel Prize win comes as no surprise. Since selecting a young, female entrepreneur to work alongside him implementing software for complex auctions, Milgrom has continued to disrupt the status quo. She speaks fondly of her Auctionomics co-founder when she says, “Paul did not only disrupt economic markets. In a world of billion-dollar transactions, he decided to pick a 29-year-old entrepreneurial female Ph.D. as his co-founder rather than a senior white male from Goldman Sachs. Paul led the way in spectrum auctions and female CEO presence in high stakes auctions.”

Working together, the co-founders of Auctionomics have assisted clients in several continents, both when bidding in auctions and designing auctions. Two of the auctions advised by Milgrom were of particular interest: in what one might call the biggest poker game ever, Professor Milgrom’s client saved $1.6 billion over its competitors in FCC auction 66. Professor Milgrom’s software was able to estimate the budget of competitors. At 9 am on a Monday, when he knew his competitors would not have time to react and ask for budget escalation, Paul implemented the biggest jump bid in history by doubling the stakes. The opponents did not have enough time to get escalation approval and ended up dropping out of the auction. 

In the Canadian 700 MHz auction in 2014, the Auctionomics client paid 1/5th in $/MHz-pop terms with respect to the larger bidder, saving the equivalent of CAD1.92 billion.