eBay auctioning Skype: buy it now for $2bn or best offer (L@@K!)

It looks like the selloff of Skype by eBay is imminent. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers chat about it and leave negative feedback for ex-CEO Meg Whitman: eBay wasted its money.

By Richi Jennings. September 1, 2009.

Your humble blogwatcher has selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention singing kitties...

Michael Arrington crunched the rumor a few days ago:

A group of well known venture capital and large private equity firms are pooling resources to make a bid to acquire eBay-owned Skype, according to a source close to the deal. ... Presumably, the investor group, if successful in acquiring Skype, would run it privately and eventually prepare it for an initial public offering.


Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, were also reportedly in talks with several private equity firms earlier this year to make a bid. ... Recent news that Skype is now in litigation with a company controlled by those founders over key Skype technology only complicates the picture further.

The gray lady's Brad Stone and Claire Cain Miller confirmed the rumor last night:

EBay plans to announce on Tuesday a deal to sell its Skype Internet calling division to a group of private investors. ... The investment group is likely to include Andreessen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm headed by the Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, ... Index Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm that was an early investor in Skype, and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.


A price was not disclosed, but eBay has said it wants around $2 billion for Skype, which is on track to take in more than $600 million in revenue this year. ... EBay acquired Skype in 2005, outbidding Google and Yahoo in a deal that has come to be viewed as one of the worst technology transactions of the decade. Including payouts to Skype’s founders, the price ultimately topped $3.1 billion. EBay later wrote down $900 million of Skype’s value.

Om Malik doesn't mince words:

If you are an eBay shareholder it is time for you to get mad for the sheer incompetency of the management. First they paid the top dollar for Skype back in 2005, making billionaires out of Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. And, now instead of waiting for an opportune time to go public, eBay management is selling low, at a time when the only buyers are bargain hunters.


A series of management blunders turned a fast growing startup into a cesspool of mediocrity and bureaucratic infighting. ... Selling the company at just over three times sales doesn’t make much sense to me. Unless of course, eBay management is trying to use this deal to paper over the problems that continue to plague its core business of auctions.

Marshall Kirkpatrick looks on the bright side:

From an innovation perspective, we're always excited when such an interesting company breaks free from a slow-moving monolith that acquired it.


It will be very interesting to see who runs the new Skype and what kinds of changes are made to the service. With $600 million in reported annual revenue and nearly twice as many users as Facebook, Skype's international network of P2P software installs powering multimedia communication, file-sharing, chat and status still has boundless potential to do interesting things.

Rafat Ali gets his geography confused:

This comes after Ebay announced plans in April to spin off Skype in a planned IPO. But legal issues over Skype’s underlying technology, which is still under control of Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis via Joltid, their Jersey, England-based company.


The two tried to put together an investor group to buy Skype, but have not been successful in meeting the price requirements. ... It is this litigation that led to Google walking away from a deal last month.

Martin Bryant talks about sex, baby:

If the reports are true, let’s hope that the new owners do something about the increasing amount of contact spam that is plaguing the service. Seriously, not a day goes by where I don’t receive messages from ‘bustyblonde18? or the like saying “Hi, let’s chat!”.

  For a service being heavily promoted on TV as the perfect way to stay in touch with distant friends and family, being riddled with spam is not a good look.

So what's your take?

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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