There’s an interesting interview on John Battelle’s blog with Bill Gross of Idealab, the guy who created (among many other things) a pay-per-click, search-based advertising company called GoTo, which became Overture, which was then bought by Yahoo. In fact, although John doesn’t mention this in the lead-up to the interview, without Bill Gross and GoTo there might never have been a Google — or at least not the $120-billion behemoth that controls over half the online advertising market.
According to someone who spoke to one of the VCs that invested in Google in the early days, the company had no clue what it was going to do to generate money, until it decided to “borrow” the pay-per-click search-related ad model from Overture. Fast forward a few years and presto: Larry and Sergey are billionaires, and Bill is… well, still working, and apparently not having the best time financially, according to rumours. Maybe Google could throw him a bone — or at least let him come by and help himself from the free candy room.