Yes, I believe that the situation has changed since 2005. For the evidence, this thread is the strongest I know.
Yes, I know that Google, Microsoft, etc. should be using AI for ad targeting, search ranking, scam and fraud detection, etc. Maybe they are.
Still from the tech news it does appear that the best way to get paid for such work from such companies is to do a startup with such work and then just sell your company to one of those companies.
I still believe that the ability of US big business, with its many 'traditions', will have one heck of a tough time running projects with anything advanced technically and not already common in the company. In simplest terms, the existing middle and upper management has essentially no ability to work productively with anything new.
Indeed, broadly the leading US research universities are terrific at working, for as far as they go, with new technical ideas, and business is just AWFUL at it. So, super tough to get a business to buy a technical idea, but they will buy a business based on a technical idea.
Oh there is a history: Off and on for decades business has tried to make statistics, optimization, AI, etc. work. The pattern is some new buzz words, some hype, some projects, some project failures, and then all's quiet again. Thing is, of course, eventually the ideas have to work. Business doesn't know how to make such ideas work. Parts of US research, in or close to academics, is from a little better at making ideas work to much better. E.g., look up the video of Eric Lander's lecture at Princeton 'Secrets of the Genome' or some such and see what he made work with new ideas and new hardware.
In simple terms, 'business' gets a 'business model' that is working and then hires 'line managers' to 'manage' the execution of this business model. Typically when the model dies, the business dies. Doing well with work that is new and advanced within the on-going business is not common. Yes, one of the reasons is part of the tax code -- it can look better for a company's financial condition just to buy a business for, say, $50 million, than to develop in-house.
The good news is, this is a GREAT time for information technology startup entrepreneurs. Don't struggle against your problems; instead, pursue your opportunities.