Bill Gross, the man who created Google

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.

Get ready for Google Laundry

Tony Ruscoe, a programmer who became famous (in the blogosphere at least) for discovering the Google Base domain before the search company launched it, was poking around in Google’s attic again and found some new potential services that Google seems to have waiting in the wings, including Google Real Estate, Google Guess, Google Events and Google Weaver. Here are some other services that Google, the company with attention deficit disorder (or is that “diversify at all costs” disorder?) is reportedly working on:

  • Google Laundry (email a request, clothes are shipped FedEx)
  • Google Shoe-Size Estimator (still in beta)
  • Google Change (send in your coins and get Google Checkout credits)
  • Google Calculator (with sine and cosine functions, naturally)
  • Google Lawn-Care (only available in San Francisco)
  • Google Timekeeper (a virtual desktop clock)
  • Google Therapy (a version of Alice the chat-bot)

Isn’t the Googleverse a wonderful place to live? On an unrelated note, how many kids with ADD does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: Hey, let’s go ride bikes!

Cellphone concerts — a tax on the stupid

So the Rolling Stones — arguably the world’s oldest rock band — are the latest lure to get eager music fans listening to a concert via their cellphone (other such concerts have featured lesser lights such as Daddy Yankee and Rihanna). As Carlo at MobHappy and others note, you get just 7 minutes for your $1.99, and you can only listen for 14 minutes in total no matter how much you want to pay. Why? Because of fears of bootlegging, believe it or not — like someone is going to rip the entire concert from their cellphone.

Even without that kind of asinine restriction, the Listen Live Now service leaves me cold. Yes, I would love to hear the Stones live without having to fly to Paris and pay $350 or whatever their tickets cost now. And yes, I know that the sound doesn’t come from some drunken groupie holding their phone up in the air but straight from the Stones’ soundboard, as BusinessWeek breathlessly informs us. But it’s still $2 for 7 freaking minutes — and it could easily be the 7 minutes when Keef forgets where he put his guitar, or when Charlie has to be taken backstage to refill his oxygen tanks.

I’m with Ethan Kaplan, director of technology for Warner Brothers, who wonders on his blog Blackrimglasses: “When will (most) bands realize that bootleg recordings of shows are the best inner and post record cycle marketing tools they have?” Of course, the Stones need marketing like I need another hole in the head, but Ethan’s point is a good one. More bands should do what Pearl Jam does, and sell their own “bootlegs” of every concert directly to their fans.

But then they wouldn’t be able to get $2 for 7 minutes, nor would they be able to help the evil phone companies find new ways of extorting money from their hapless users. And thanks to commenter Peebs for this link.

Bubble 2.0 is YouTuberific

Chad Hurley, the guy with the surfer-dude name and the hottest Internet-media property going — namely YouTube, home of classics such as the Diet Coke and Mentos video — seems to be reading from the standard Web 2.0 (or Bubble 2.0) playbook in his recent media appearances, including his It Girl role at Allen & Co.’s media confab earlier this month and a recent interview with Internet columnist Bambi Francisco of Marketwatch (Chad Hurley, Bambi Francisco — you can’t make this kind of stuff up).

Are you going to sell, Chad? No way — we want to remain independent, we’re trying to build value, long-term vision, etc. etc. (see previous playbook entries under Facebook and Skype); Your company’s value has soared to $1-billion or so, hasn’t it Chad? I don’t really know — we’re focused on long-term value, we don’t think about that kind of thing, etc. etc. But then Chad slipped a little and said he might consider an IPO, and you could almost hear the sharks swarming for the chum in the water, some of them looking to cut Mr. YouTube down to size and some eager to help him fleece, er… assist the investing public. Would it fly? Some IPOs haven’t done so well (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky for the link)

Meanwhile, competitor Revver — which has a similar setup but takes the additional step of sharing revenue with those who upload videos (which is why the Diet Coke and Mentos boys asked people to upload their clip to Revver rather than YouTube) — has gotten additional financing from the funding arms of cable giant Comcast and Ted Turner’s new-media outfit. Draper Fisher Jurvetson is also a backer of Revver, as is William Randolph Hearst III (who spent some of the family dough during Bubble 1.0 too, by investing in cable-Internet flameout @Home).

Is Chad’s potential IPO a sign of Bubble 2.0? The inimitable Ze Frank has some thoughts.