Just a couple weeks ago, there were rumors running around that Google was looking to buy Skype off eBay—er, from eBay. While that rumor hasn’t materialized (yet), eBay has now admitted that they may sell off Skype later this year.
The Financial Times is reporting that eBay CEO John Donahoe would be willing to part with the P2P/VoIP company if they couldn’t find a way to integrate it with their core eCommerce business. Donahoe replaced Meg Whitman as CEO two and a half weeks ago.
Personally, I’ve never seen the connection between telephone calls/IMing and online auctions, unless you needed to call a seller for some reason. FT reports that this was the initial intent of the acquisition:
Ebay originally believed that Skype would oil the wheels of its online markets by making communications easier between buyers and sellers, while also supporting new business models such as “click to call”. Nearly three years after the acquisition, however, Ebay has yet to prove Skype can help its other businesses.
Meanwhile, many opine that Google buying Skype would integrate well with Google’s other phone offerings, VoIP via GTalk, GOOG-411 and GrandCentral.
On the other hand, Donahoe says that things are going well internally for Skype:
While the acquisition of Skype has widely come to be seen as a blunder for Ebay, the phone service itself has continued to grow fast, adding another 33m registered users in the first three months of this year to reach 309m. Although most use it for free internet phone calls, the addition of extra paid services helped Skype to increase its revenues to $126m in the first three months of this year, up 61 per cent from the year before.
“What we know is, Skype is a great stand-alone business,” Ebay’s CEO said. Its revenues this year are set to top $500m and the service will be profitable, he added.
Also in the FT story, Donahoe addresses speculation over eBay spinning off PayPal as well, citing the advantages of the company for eBay and saying that they’d be together “for many years.”