Jonathan V. Last reviews Ken Auletta's new book, "Googled." An excerpt:
After three years of losing money, Google came up with the idea to sell little text ads on its search-results page. The ads a user was shown depended on what they had searched for, making them particularly attractive to advertisers. Adding to the enticement was that Google only charged advertisers if a user clicked on their ad. It was a revolutionary idea which turned into gushers of money for Google. The year before they began serving up these ads the company had revenues of $86 million. The next year (2002) revenues jumped to $400 million. The year after that they stood at $1.5 billion, and they've continued to increase at a phenomenal pace ever since.