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Skype Attempts to Buy Itself Back from eBay

skype-logoNope, this isn’t just a super confusing rehash of yesterday’s story about StumbleUpon buying itself back from eBay—turns out the online auction site’s other confusing acquisition has also been seeking to free itself from its parent and reestablish itself as an independent company.

The WSJ reports that eBay welcomed Skype’s effort to raise its independent funding:

Founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis originally approached Ebay about repurchasing Skype, which acquired the service for $2.6 billion in 2005. Ebay encouraged them to make an offer, and the Scandinavian billionaires rounded up a group of private-equity firms to back them, the person familiar with the bid said. . . .

The proposal involved private-equity firms contributing some $1 billion to the deal, according to people familiar with the situation, though a full deal price could not be learned. The transaction also involved Ebay providing financing for the deal.

FTC and Viral Marketers May Square Off

AdAge reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is moving closer free-speechto a proposed plan that will begin regulating viral marketing and blogs. Regardless of what side of the political fence you are on it’s starting to get a bit scary as to just how much the government wants to be the overseer of everything.

Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising-practices division puts it this way

“The commission is attempting to update guidelines that are 30 years old so that they address current marketing techniques,” he said, “and in particular to address the issue of whether or not the safe harbor that’s currently allowed for ‘result not typical’-type disclaimers is still warranted.”

Like the Phoenix from its Ashes: StumbleUpon Buys Itself Back from eBay

stumbleupon_collage-300x300First there were the acquisition rumors, then the acquisition. Then there were the sale rumors. Now, eBay has sold StumbleUpon—to the social discovery app (and its funders) itself.

In May 2007, eBay purchased StumbleUpon at $75 million, to much confusion in the blogosphere. At the time, eBay was taking a “wait and see” approach before integrating any of its holdings with the sharing and discovery toolbar. Just under two years later, with the help of well-known VCs, the service is returning to its roots as an independent start up, including bringing the founders, Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith, back.

Camp, who will take the CEO role, said in the release:

We are grateful to eBay for its guidance. However, we realized there were few long-term synergies between the two businesses. It is best for us to part ways and focus on our respective strengths

Facebook and Revenue – You Make the Call

BusinessWeek wonders outfacebook-logo loud in an article about Facebook whether there are premium membership offerings in the future of the social media big shot. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, spoke with Stephen Adler of the magazine to discuss, what else, how the company was going to make money. You would think that BusinessWeek would have the clout to get them to reveal the secret sauce for monetizing the 200 million users they have. The result is actually speculation of what might happen based on what wasn’t said rather than what was said by Sandberg. For instance:

ADLER: Does Facebook plan on charging a membership fee? Over three-quarters of its users are going into a panic-induced assumption that this is true, even though there hasn’t been talk of a membership fee from the business press or Facebook itself. So can you calm the panic?

Social Media Can Change the Rules in Many Places

Since Andy is such an NC State fan it’s only fitting that the school would be involved in the social mediabasketball learning curve. Social media is about communication first and foremost but it is literally changing the rules of communication for some traditional organizations and in this case it’s the NCAA.

As reported in the Raleigh News & Observer, there is a very hot recruiting battle going on for John Wall who is ranked as the number 1 high school senior basketball player in the country according to rivals.com. Wall attends Raleigh Word of God high school right in Raleigh so naturally the NC State fan base would love to see one of their own stay home and help NC State become a national power in basketball. While the fan base would certainly love that so would the university considering the revenue that can be generated via advertising and more. Add to it that the local competition is none other than newly crowned national champion North Carolina and the ever present Duke University then it becomes pretty critical to State to bring a phenom like this on board.

Twitter Aids Customer Service for More Companies

We have all heard about Twitter and Dell. A customer service coup of sorts that jacked up sales with a twitter-birdclaim in December of ’08 that $ 1 million in sales could be contributed to Twitter efforts. Not bad for an investment involving employee time and probably little working capital As would be expected, other companies are now jumping on the bandwagon to provide an avenue of service that was for the most part unattainable in the very recent past.

Qwest Communications is taking this approach as noted over at MediaPost. The @TalktoQwest is monitored by 7 employees (or company reps as the article states which makes one wonder are they real Qwest employees?) 24 / 7and is designed to help aid customers in near real time regarding services like high-speed Internet, billing, pricing, technical support, and more.

Internet Island Hopping with Yahoo

Yahoo is still lurking about. A Reuters article gives a peek into what the folks at the perpetual Google chaser yahoo-logoare doing to try to harness the large number of visitors it gets on a monthly basis to its disparate properties. These properties often work well on their own but don’t play well with other Yahoo properties and are in effect islands unto themselves.

Many of Yahoo’s properties rank among the most popular on the Internet. Yahoo’s homepage had 329 million unique visitors in February, according to research company comScore; Yahoo Mail had 282 million unique visitors in February, second to Microsoft HotMail.