A Nobel Coffee
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A Nobel Coffee

SILVIA CONSOLE BATTILANA, BOCCONI ALUMNA, IS THE COFOUNDER OF THE AUCTION CONSULTING FIRM AUCTIONOMICS WITH PAUL MILGROM, FRESH WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR ECONOMICS. A PARTNERSHIP BORN IN FRONT OF A CUP OF COFFEE

Like many successful businesses in Silicon Valley, Auctionomics started over a coffee at Coupa Café, the Palo Alto meeting place for the tech community. In the case of Bocconi alumna Silvia Console Battilana, this cup of coffee in 2008 led to a business partnership with a Nobel prize winner.

The Nobel Committee announced Monday that U.S. economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Prize in economics "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.” Professor Milgrom and Dr. Console Battilana set up Auctionomics 11 years ago to apply Milgrom’s auction theory to business situations. Here’s the story of the fateful cup of coffee.

“During the 2008 financial crisis, someone at the U.S. Treasury called Paul to ask for his help in possibly auctioning off distressed financial assets,” Dr. Console Battilana told Sarfatti25. “His auction model could have worked very well for this. I had just finished my PhD in economics at Stanford and we had worked together on a project. He asked me out for coffee to see if I wanted to be his cofounder.”

The Treasury decided not to go ahead with the auction. But Dr. Console Battilana became co-founder and CEO of Auctionomics, a consultancy specializing in the design of high stakes auctions. It designed and helped implement the Federal Communications Commission’s Incentive Auction, which raised over $19 billion in revenue. In addition, Auctionomics advises bidders in preparing to participate in complex auctions.
Auctions play an unseen role in many “real world” situations, from matching donors and recipients for a kidney transplant to setting the price of advertising on Google.
As an entrepreneur working with Professor Milgrom, Dr. Console Battilana was responsible for implementing his theories and ideas in a business context.

“I see myself as the human translator between the super professors and the rest of the world,” she says.

Silvia Console Battilana graduated from Bocconi with a degree in Economic and Social Sciences in 2002 under Professor Guido Tabellini. She says Bocconi played a crucial role in her career, since Prof. Tabellini encouraged her to pursue a PhD at Stanford. She met Paul Milgrom during her first year at Stanford, where she was also very active as a conference and recruitment organizer. She graduated with a degree in Economics in 2007. She was named a Young Global Leader at Davos in 2017.

by Jennifer Clark

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