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Skype founders want it back

Skype founders want it back

Original founders Zennstrom and Friis are looking for venture capital to get Skype back from eBay after selling their voice over IP company in 2005.

eBay might be a good place to pick up a bargain, but there's at least one sale that might get reversed in the near future: the founders of Skype are allegedly looking to get their baby back.

As reported over on The New York Times, original founders Niklas Zennstrom and Jenus Friis are looking to get the Skype voice over IP service back under their control.

Having sold the company to eBay back in 2005 for a cool $2.6 billion – $3.1 billion when you count the bonus payouts the pair got after the deal had gone through – you'd think that the pair had earned the right to sit back and relax. Despite the money, however, the word is that they want Skype back – and have been approaching venture capitalists in order to secure funding and make it happen.

The purchase of Skype by eBay in 2005 came as something of a shock to the tech world: the two companies never seemed as good a fit as when eBay purchased electronic payment specialist PayPal, and the best to come out of the deal was integration with the eBay auction site so buyers could communicate with sellers via Skype.

Zennstrom and Friis could have picked a good time to buy, too: despite the service having grown to a massive 405 million members and enjoying a turnover of $145 million in the last quarter of 2008, eBay chief executive officer John Donahoe has been hinting heavily that the purchase may have been a mistake and that he could be convinced to sell if the price was right.

Although other companies are sniffing around Skype, Zennstrom and Friis have one last trick up their sleeve: another of their companies, Joltid, is responsible for the peer-to-peer technology at the heart of the Skype software – and it just cancelled eBay's licence. Without the licence, Skype – in other words, eBay – is in breach of the licensing agreement between the two companies. This alleged breach of contract would magically disappear should Zennstrom and Friis pick Skype back up, but would be a real poison pill for any other companies looking in to a purchase.

Do you think that eBay should take this opportunity to rid itself of a hasty acquisition, or does the company just need to figure out better ways to integrate Skype with its existing technologies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

14 Comments

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WildThing 13th April 2009, 11:35 Quote
Well if they do get it back I hope the do something about the latest version. I took one look at version 4 and went straight back to 3.8!
azrael- 13th April 2009, 11:38 Quote
I believe I still run some v2.x. Hardly ever use Skype these days. Started off like a cool gadget, then somehow I lost interest. Didn't really get better with all the accusations flying around how Skype would cooperate with the NSA and the like.
p3n 13th April 2009, 12:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
I believe I still run some v2.x. Hardly ever use Skype these days. Started off like a cool gadget, then somehow I lost interest. Didn't really get better with all the accusations flying around how Skype would cooperate with the NSA and the like.

Terrorist circles the world over had to find a new way to communicate, damn them!
stonedsurd 13th April 2009, 12:33 Quote
Yep, hope they can get rid of the crap-fest that is Skype 4.x
It's WAY too bloated now, for not much increase by way of user-level enhancements.
RTT 13th April 2009, 22:27 Quote
Quote:
despite the service having grown to a massive 405 million members

I do wonder how many of those are active/actually use it. How many people do you know who use Skype? I know only one person that actively uses it ... :|
wuyanxu 13th April 2009, 22:51 Quote
my room mates and i use it as communicator as keeping the door open and shouting during gaming isn't very effective. usually 4 to 5 hours long gaming session with Sins of Solar Empire.

i love skype, voice quality is fantastic and very low bandwidth useage. and i love it even more now that it's on iphone
Faulk_Wulf 13th April 2009, 23:08 Quote
A friend of mine, his girlfriend is from South Korea. She uses it to talk to her parents back home for cheap. And he uses it to talk to her when she visits there the summer.
Pieface 14th April 2009, 00:32 Quote
Only time I ever used Skype was to call my brother when he worked in America.
Carcarius 14th April 2009, 02:26 Quote
LOL, they get paid ~$3B for it and could conceivably get it back for a fraction of that. Wow, what a deal!!! That's alost as good a deal that Larry Silverstein got for buying the WTC buildings for a few billion (a couple weeks before 9/11) and then getting paid double that from the insurance companies.

If they get Skype back they will be my heroes.
StooJ 14th April 2009, 05:26 Quote
So, sell ebay a product for a (vastly inflated) price, but shaft them down the road with licensing of the underlying technology? Why are IT companies such smegheads?
Prestidigitweeze 14th April 2009, 07:09 Quote
I use Skype to call my GF on my PSP at work.

Better not to tie up business phone lines when clients might be trying to call; better not to pay cell prices for gabbing worldwide when one's main use of one's cell is as a walkie-talkie.

(My boss is a fanatical gamer, so no one balks at the sight of a PSP when our workload is nonexistent.)
[USRF]Obiwan 14th April 2009, 09:16 Quote
Its with all those nice tools. It starts as a simple to use, fast little program. And with each version update they fill it with stuff they think the user needs. For example Skype, MSN, ICQ, ACDsee and even virus scanners.
liratheal 14th April 2009, 09:26 Quote
...That is some very cute business there.

I use Skype as often as most people think about sex, so if they make the program suck less, then I'm all for it.

Latest version is god-awful.
Nictron 14th April 2009, 10:53 Quote
Skype on mobile devices like android, iPhone? That could grow the revenue stream by miles in the future.
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