Interesting Google snapshot from Steven Levy; see the full article (and also the 3-part cover “New New Economy” story lead by Chris Anderson)
Why does Google even need a chief economist? The simplest reason is that the company is an economy unto itself. The ad auction, marinated in that special sauce, is a seething laboratory of fiduciary forensics, with customers ranging from giant multinationals to dorm-room entrepreneurs, all billed by the world's largest micropayment system.
Google depends on economic principles to hone what has become the search engine of choice for more than 60 percent of all Internet surfers, and the company uses auction theory to grease the skids of its own operations. All these calculations require an army of math geeks, algorithms of Ramanujanian complexity, and a sales force more comfortable with whiteboard markers than fairway irons.