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Summary:

One thing is for sure: eBay, a disaster of an Internet company, really wants to rectify its megabillion-dollar mistake and get rid of Skype — even if it means taking a small haircut. But eBay CEO John Donahoe thinks the company is worth much more than […]

skype_logoOne thing is for sure: eBay, a disaster of an Internet company, really wants to rectify its megabillion-dollar mistake and get rid of Skype — even if it means taking a small haircut. But eBay CEO John Donahoe thinks the company is worth much more than $2 billion figure being thrown around by analysts, calling that valuation “low.” He is ignoring the fact that eBay doesn’t own the core IP for Skype and is in a legal tussle with founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. Of course, eBay spent $2.6 billion on Skype, so one can’t expect Donahoe to publicly admit that they got suckered and overpaid.

eBay hopes to spin out Skype in 2010. I chatted with Sarah Lacy on Yahoo Tech Ticker earlier this week (watch the video) about Skype’s IPO and why it could be a strong offering, unless of course the founders show up with a bunch of cash to buy it back. The company has been posting strong growth in recent months.

  1. In this climate, $2B is about what they’ll get, more than likely. EBay needs to get back to refocusing on its core auction business.

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    1. I wouldn’t be that optimistic. They should get between $1.5-and-$1.7 billion unless markets turn radically upwards/

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  2. The IP stuff is a non-issue. Every other VOIP and IM service does just fine without it. I think there’s a very good chance it will go for well in excess of $2b. Not only is it already worth that much on current economics, but there will be a huge incentive for Skype to juice up its revenues & earnings.

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    1. jd

      that joltid technology is at the core of Skype so it is not a non-issue as you say. it is going to cost them money in my opinion and as a result this could delay the IPO. Give me your breakdown on why it is more expensive at today’s metrics. I might be missing something.

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  3. Om, the joltid stuff is central to the way Skype currently works internally.
    I’d argue it is possible to replace it with other technologies and achive the same
    user experience. It might cost a bit in extra hardware though.

    The storing of data ‘somewhere’ in the cloud of users machines is
    ok for casual use, but it fails badly in any environment which has a
    regulatory framework for storage of personal data (like most business in the EU
    or the US healthcare system).
    For Skype to meet those regulatory requirements, they are going to have to
    ditch parts of GlobalIndex anyhow.

    The p2p discovery stuff is also adequately done by things like Digium’s Dundi protocol.
    So JoltID is less of an issue than it appears – at least technically.

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    1. Perhaps it can be replicated, but at what cost?

      Ripping out the entire underlying infrastructure, which is the special sauce, isn’t cheap or something that occurs quickly. And doing so would likely be a huge disruption to their business.

      eBay needs to realize that while Skype is a fantastic service, they got caught in the hype, substantially overpaid and now must live with that.

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  4. [...] Read the rest here:  eBay CEO: $2B Valuation for Skype Is “Low” [...]

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  5. Garrett – I’m not so sure – Skype has 15M+ people _on_line_ as I type. Thats bigger than the total subscribers for most European Telcos.

    Yes, Ebay made a bad investment, but that’s more to do with what they did (or didn’t) do with it, than it’s intrinsic worth.

    The thing with Skype is that there is hardly any infrastructure to rip :-) It’s all software on your (and my) machines. If they push an update, then the whole network could change protocol overnight.

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  6. Hi Om,

    There’s one thing that everyone seems to be missing in Skype’s valuation. The retention and growth of paying customers is key to any business. Only a small number of Skype’s members actually pay for any services (SkypeOut, SkypeIn, etc.). As any customer who’s ever had a problem with their service knows, Skype’s customer service is terrible. There is no number to call, and the customer service forms are buried in the catacombs of the website. When they finally get back to you (my typical response time is about 5 business days) the answers provided are usually incorrect, incomplete, or skirt the issue (particularly if billing is involved). If you reply, expect another bad response 5 business days later. This kind of nonsense is a huge turnoff to people who actually rely on the service for business.

    Skype is dirt cheap, but until they set up a business that actually treats its customers with respect and courtesy they will never attract the client base they need to grow the non-advertising income-producing parts of its business. This being the case, I think the idea of paying $2 billion for Skype is absolute lunacy.

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  7. [...] Silverlake’s inclusion makes absolute sense – after all both Index and Andreessen Horowitz don’t have the funds to move the needle for San Jose-based eBay is rumored to be looking for $2 billion for Skype, which sounds bizarre considering that as recently as May 2009, eBay CEO John Donahoe was quoted as saying that $2 billion was too low a valuation for Skype. [...]

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  8. [...] Silverlake’s inclusion makes absolute sense – after all both Index and Andreessen Horowitz don’t have the funds to move the needle for San Jose-based eBay is rumored to be looking for $2 billion for Skype, which sounds bizarre considering that as recently as May 2009, eBay CEO John Donahoe was quoted as saying that $2 billion was too low a valuation for Skype. [...]

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  9. [...] minority interest with gifted partners,” Donahoe pronounced in a statement. In May, he was quoted as observant a $2 billion gratefulness for Skype was [...]

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  10. [...] Silverlake’s inclusion makes absolute sense — after all, Index and Andreessen Horowitz don’t have the funds to move the needle, for San Jose, Calif.-based eBay is rumored to be looking for $2 billion for Skype, which sounds bizarre considering that as recently as May, eBay CEO John Donahoe was quoted as saying that $2 billion was too low a valuation for Skype. [...]

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