Saturday, April 11, 2009

Zennstrom and Friis to Buy Back Skype?

News is breaking that Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, have made approaches to several private equity firms in order to make a bid to but it back from eBay. Skype was sold to eBay in for $2.6 billion in 2995 and the pair later received bonus payouts increasing the price to $3.1 billion. Skype now has over 405 million registered users and its 2008 4th quarter revenues were $145 million. It is estimated by Telegeography that the service n0w accounts for 8% of the world’s international calling minutes.

The NY Times reports that it is expected that eBay would sell Skype for a faction of what it paid amd that would be a significant coup for the founders. Some would say that the service is not performing as eBay envisaged and is not generating the paid for revenues thay expected but is being used as a free service. Obviously something that eBay are not familiar with exploiting. The service is poised to go even bigger and freer with iPhone and Blackberry traffic.

Another potential reason to sell is the intellectual property dispute between eBay and the Skype founders. Joltid, a company founded by Mr. Zennstrom and Mr. Friis, terminated eBay’s license to Joltid’s peer-to-peer technologies on April 1st. These services appear to be at the center of Skype’s service. The dispute is likely to dissuade any other suitors and although Google bid for the service in 2005 they now have Google Voice.

We have always admired Zennstrom and Friis form their Kazza days, through Skype and Joost they seem to have their finger on the pulse. We now wait to see how their buy back develops.

1 comment:

HD said...

Extraordinary news! I still can't work out why ebay decided it was a good idea to buy Skype.