eBay has been busy announcing changes and fueling speculation around others. According to the WSJ the online marketplace is going back to its roots as an “internet flea market” , as well as moving away from the retail model that Amazon owns and concentrating more on PayPal. Lots of stuff going on during the post Meg Whitman era, huh?
Along with all of this the rumor mill firing up again about what will happen to Skype. BusinessWeek reports that there was more focus than usual at the annual meeting yesterday on Skype’s place in the eBay fold. Considering the fact that just about everything else is up in the air other than the original core business model this is no surprise. It is not the first time that there has been talk about the possible sale of Skype either.
Turns out the Net phone calling software pioneer enjoyed 20% net income last year, on $550 million in sales in 2008. And unit chief Josh Silverman says the plan is to double sales in the next three years, while maintaining those profits.
Aggressive talk that serves to make one wonder if the Skype division is preening to attract suitors. Talk about more corporate sales and more of a concentration on mobile usage surfaced as well. Most interesting is the talk about putting more effort into Skype’s paid services. I honestly have never considered moving beyond the free services myself.
Back in 2005 ebay bought Skype for $2.5 billion (with a b) and they simply have not seen the return and synergies that were anticipated. CEO John Donohue even went so far to say that “We were wrong” on the projected impact and value.
The bottom line is that the language was carefully constructed to make the point that there is nothing stopping a sale of Skype. You have to suspect that offers would be entertained. Who would be the best fit for this opportunity? Is it even an opportunity or would another buyer run into the same trouble that eBay did? Put your opinion up for bid and we’ll see if anyone is buying.