Elon Musk’s Weird Zip2 Patent
Musk also put in for a patent over twenty years ago named “Method and Apparatus For An Accelerated Radius Search.” How does this patent work? Essentially, it patented a search category built to have a density value corresponding to a geographic area. A first radius search is generated connected to the category and is used to perform a “first search.” If this first search returns an insufficient number of results, then a second search radius is generated. It will do this by using a heuristic to increase the aforementioned first search radius, and then the second search radius will perform a second search. This is repeated until one gets the desired result.
The assignee of the patent was the MyWay.com Corporation, which connects to Musk because Zip2 became a subsidiary of this corporation around 2000. MyWay was owned by IAC, a previous internet juggernaut. They stripped Zip2 of all its branding and it would eventually sell off to many internet companies. Yet this 1998 patent did not get to Zip2 until August of 2000 right in the middle of everything. Since this patent revolved around MyWay’s entire business model, it was also worked on by King-Sun Wai and Leo Chan. King-Sun is a prolific software engineer with many patents of his own and Leo Chan is an engineer himself, so it seems like Musk was only added to this and likely did nothing on the project over the other two.