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Google’s 'risky' YouTube bet pays off 8 years later

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Eight years ago Google paid $1.65 billion for what was even then the biggest video-sharing service in history. But it was still considered a risky bet, as nearly all the videos were homemade or violated copyright protection—exactly what advertisers, starting to move dollars online, wanted to avoid.

But Google not only overcame the piracy issue (a $1 billion lawsuit by Viacom was settled this year), it's brought advertisers on board. The site is now a cash cow, generating an estimated $7.2 billion in gross ad revenue this year—according to eMarketer—up from $5.6 billion last year.