The New York Times is reporting that eBay has a deal to sell Skype thus ending a rather tragic acquisition saga that began in 2005 when eBay ‘won’ in their fight with Google and Yahoo to buy the Internet phone service. Since that time the original deal which was for $3.1 billion has resulted in a $900 million write-down by eBay and more than its share of problems including a lawsuit in a British court over a core peer to peer technology with Skype founders.
So who are the new owners?
The investment group is likely to include Andreessen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm headed by the Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, these people said. One of the people added that Index Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm that was an early investor in Skype, and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners were also involved. 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.
Skype has been surrounded by speculation of a public offering in 2010, possible sale back to its founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis via investment firms and the Times even reports that Google was involved with talks regarding the service as recently as a month ago. Google got cold feet, however, regarding the possible legal actions against Skype could expose the search giant to some serious financial hits. In addition,
Google also worried that owning Skype might alienate wireless carriers, which offer their customers phones running Google’s Android software, the person said.
The Times article wraps up with the idea that maybe the founders are involved in this deal in some way which would make the legal concerns go away but that is not clear at this time. One has to think that if that were a possibility it would certainly be worth the effort to make happen.
So we don’t know what will happen to Skype. I would be upset if it changed significantly or was forced to change by the courts. One thing I have learned though as of late is that nothing, and the heavy emphasis on nothing, stays the same for very long in this world. The Internet space proves that every day.