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When eBay bought Skype last year for a whopping $4.1 billion ($2.6 billion in stock/cash and rest as an earn out) my theory is that the first step in integration of the two companies would be adding a Skype Me feature for all sellers on the […]

When eBay bought Skype last year for a whopping $4.1 billion ($2.6 billion in stock/cash and rest as an earn out) my theory is that the first step in integration of the two companies would be adding a Skype Me feature for all sellers on the eBay system. Well, time to say, told you so.


It seems that eBay is already mash-ing it up Skype in some European countries. Switzerland for example, where, buyers can talk to sellers via Skype, and also with eBay customer service. Didier Durand has posted a lengthy french language post on his blog sent me the heads-up. Thanks DD. Didier says that since eBay’s European headquarters are in Bern, Switzerland the small size of the market, and its multilingual nature (4 national languages), it is often used for experiment like the one made by Ebay.

eBay has confirmed this on its Swiss website. Similar tests are going on in Belgium, Holland, China and Taiwan according to Ute Moritz which works for Ebay in Germany. Similar tests were conducted in Norway as well. It makes sense, especially as eBay starts to move high ticket items like cars, and expensive jewelry, as people would like to talk to each other before closing deals. But Skype calls when selling a phone power adapter…. yikes!

I find it interesting that most of the tests are in countries that are not hostile to Skype. I think such a roll-out in the US would have the MSOs and the phone company(s) up in arms. Now if you are like me, then you are asking: this is it for $4.1 billion? There’s got to be more, right.

By Om Malik

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  1. eBay is also testing out Skype with select Shopping.com merchants in the US.

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  2. Borrell Associates, a US-based research and analyst firm that specializes in local media and advertising, yesterday published a white paper that speaks to eBay’s Skype plans and the broader concept of “Presence-aware advertising”. The key point it makes is that presence-aware advertising may well be the biggest part of what eBay plans to do with Skype.

    The white paper can be downloaded free-of-charge at http://www.borrellassociates.com/report.cfm.

    Full disclosure – my company, ContactAtOnce!, is mentioned in the white paper as well.

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  3. OM, I’m on eBay UK, and I added a ‘Skype-me’ button to my ‘ME’ page on eBay.

    Q. The total number of Skype calls I’ve had about items?
    A. Zero

    One of the beauties of eBay is not having to have inane conversations with time-wasters.

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  4. “. Now if you are like me, then you are asking: this is it for $4.1 billion? There’s got to be more, right.”

    Or Meg just over-paid in a last ditch effort to bring some shine back to eBay.

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  5. John Hanger,

    if you have a copy of that white paper, send it along. it be great to read that paper.

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  6. Overpaid? Understatement of the day Damian ;-)

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  7. Interesting article as usual Om. Just a small correction: The tests you mention in Norway, were actually conducted in the Netherlands. The author mixed up the TLDs .nl and .no and he obviously doesn’t speak either Norwegian nor Dutch…

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  8. Here’s the link to the Borrell White Paper…

    http://www.borrellassociates.com/report.cfm

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  9. You say: “I find it interesting that most of the tests are in countries that are not hostile to Skype. I think such a roll-out in the US would have the MSOs and the phone company(s) up in arms.”

    What’s the point of market testing in the actual market (which is USA)? That is the whole point, they test it in smaller markets before launch.

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  10. Om- here’s a hypothetical. What if, as Skype pushes into the small business space worldwide, eBay were to package an eCommerce/Payment solve along with a free communication solution? What if Skype’s global community of users could be presented buying opportunities from eBay, paid via Paypal through their P2P network? What if Skype/Paypal’s massive push off-eBay were a great point of access for eBay’s multi-channel solution (eBay/Stores/ProStores/Shopping)? That’s the nice thing about having huge communities across all three solutions. So long as there’s a common target (consumer/SMB), the potential for an integrated solve represents a lot of growth for all three entities.

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