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We're starting a countdown: How long before Google ad-sales executive Tim Armstrong either leaves the search engine, or leaves the board of Associated Content, the startup he's helping to launch? In his day job, Armstrong sells ads which appear on Google's own websites, as well as sites in its AdSense ad-distribution network. Associated Content, meanwhile, pays bloggers to write lightweight articles on niche topics, in what most observers believe is a cynical attempt to reap profits from Google's AdSense advertisers. AC CEO Geoff Reiss, whom Armstrong hired, admits as much to Read on for the damning quote which may end Armstrong's cozy arrangement for good.

I didn't come here at this point in my career to manage a cynical enterprise whose sole purpose is to exploit the intricacies of AdSense to make a few bucks. Nor could we create value for our shareholders by merely gaming AdSense.

So says Reiss, Armstrong's longtime buddy. "Sole purpose." "Merely gaming AdSense." In other words, Reiss admits to the charges — he just insists that AC, in addition to manipulating Armstrong's employer to wring money from Google's advertisers, is doing other things besides. Google, ostensibly, frowns on enterprises which exploit and game AdSense. Except when they're backed by a top executive, in a self-dealing arrangement approved by Google's indulgent management team. If shareholders aren't outraged by Armstrong's scheme to profit at Google's expense, shouldn't advertisers be?