Is Skype Ripe for a Buy?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-19 Print this article Print

Two things here. First, I believe the reader/Skype user needs time to adjust to the new user interface and he or she will come around.

Second, I believe the emphasis on easier video chat and conversation management is proof that Skype is mature enough for a number of companies to make a run at. An acquirer could bolster efforts to sell it to business users, who would also benefit from the finer management tools.

Google and Microsoft leap immediately to mind as the obvious possibilities, but Yahoo should pick up the company from eBay, which is choking on a $900 million-plus write-down on Skype from 2007.
Google, which is on a Web services tear, might be best positioned to propel Skype (and TechCrunch has had Skype headed to Google for months), but Yahoo almost needs a property like this to get some momentum.

With Skype, Yahoo would not only add $500 million a year in revenues but provide the company another Web service weapon to wield against Microsoft or other acquirers.

While it's tough to predict how investors will react, a purchase of Skype could quell investor concerns that the company is in shambles.

Yahoo, which lost a half dozen executives within the last week, including network head Jeff Weiner and Flickr founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, could use the boost. See this spanking new ex-Yahoos list on TechCrunch.

Enderle also agreed that the enhancements could make this "property much more attractive to another firm willing to acquire it and treat it more strategically than eBay has."

As to the thought that Yahoo might be that company, Enderle said that it fits with Yahoo's model, but the fact that it is hemorrhaging people at the moment throws into question whether it can pull off the deal.

Monaghan added: "If eBay decides they want to unload them-the more users the better. However, as the Skype and eBay relationship has proved, there needs to be a clear synergy between them and any acquirer-something that was missing from Skype's current relationship with eBay."

IDC's Rebecca Swensen threw cold water on the notion that Google, Yahoo or Microsoft would buy Skype.

"Skype is a money maker for eBay and even if eBay sold the company, I imagine there's a better change of either Skype being it's own entity or an investment firm buying it, than someone like Google," Swensen told me.

Moreover, she said Google wouldn't buy Skype because it would nullify its investment in GrandCentral. I disagree. GrandCentral could become part of the Skype offerings for consumers looking to aggregate phone numbers.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel