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Richard Branson dupes entire wireless industry with Google on Mars gag

'Virgle, my a**'

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CTIA Wireless Speaking this morning (Tuesday) at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas, Sir Richard Branson told several hundred mobile industry insiders that he and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will soon fly a solar-powered Noah's Ark to Mars.

And they believed him.

"I'm sure all of you here know Google. Google and Virgin have got together, and we've formed a new company called Virgle," Branson said, midway through his CTIA keynote. "Larry and Sergey put a considerable amount of investment in - and I put in a slightly lesser investment. The values of our companies are slightly different.

"Basically, what we're doing is building a giant Noah's Ark, a space ship that is powered by the sun, and it will carry 30 passengers."

No one laughed. So Sir Richard kept going.

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Google's idea of a joke

"The reason we're calling it a giant Noah's Ark is that we're taking animals on board. We're taking beasts on board. And the idea is to head towards Mars with the plan - in our lifetime, hopefully - to actually put people on Mars and build a city on Mars."

At which point, several hundred wireless wonks broke into applause. So he kept going.

"But there's a catch for the people who are going," Branson continued. "They may not come back. But I'm sure that by the time we finish the work we're doing on Mars, it will be very beautiful for people to live there."

Then, after fifteen more minutes of Virgin-fueled speechification, Branson brought the lights up in the massive meeting hall and asked for volunteers.

At least thirty people walked onto stage for the chance to live on Mars / have their photo taken with Sir Richard Branson.

Meanwhile, Google has announced the formation of Virgle on its website, vowing to turn Mars into an "Open Source Planet." According to Google's "press release," the first Virgle flight to Mars will happen in 2016. That's eight years away.

A few words for all you CTIA attendees: Today is April Fool's Day. And Larry Page was married on Richard Branson's Caribbean island. ®

Bootnote

For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.

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