With its $ 8.5 billion acquisition of Skype announced yesterday Microsoft will yet again be put under the microscope to examine how it will manage one of the world’s most popular web portals. Skype has more than 660 million members/users around the world. Only a small portion of Skype ‘customers’ actually produce revenue for the company since the VOIP (voice over internet protocol) is free unless you call or text an actual phone or mobile device.
So Skype does not make all that much money even though it’s been in business since 2003. EBay could not make its acquisition of Skype work and sold it off to Silver Lake Partners. What makes Microsoft think that it will be able to leverage Skype’s assets and users? After all 107 million users are connected for more than 100 minutes per MONTH on Skype? But how will you get them to PAY for the service that people have come to know and love as FREE?
I for one thought Facebook was a better match for Skype as I believe that the integration of Skype-calling with Facebook’s social networking would be a powerful combination. But Microsoft ‘won the battle’ for Skype – although the battle was not a public one. Microsoft’s history of involving itself in consumer based companies has been mixed at best. http://nyti.ms/muGV9C
Skype investors had considered a public offering but undoubtedly came to the conclusion that increasing the valuation by selling it to Microsoft was a surer bet for Silver Lake Partners. And in the process Microsoft at the very least kept Skype out of the hands of Google and Facebook. So maybe Microsoft is playing some sort of corporate preventive defense?
Excerpt from the article in the Times –
“Microsoft and Skype share the vision of bringing software innovation and products to our customers,” said Tony Bates, the current head of Skype who will become the president of the newly created Microsoft Skype Division. “Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype’s plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate.”
I use Skype all the time and really find it a useful application. However I don’t really have any idea what Mr. Bates’ comment means but for some reason it makes me nervous. How about you?