For the past week or so, rumors have been swirling around Skype, the Internet telephony company. Reuters has reported that the company has been in talks with both Facebook and Google, either for a partnership or for an outright acquisition. And if my sources are right, we will find out more details very soon.
How soon? People familiar with Skype indicate that some kind of news is forthcoming later this week, perhaps as soon as Monday. At present, corporate attorneys and other senior managers are burning the midnight oil this weekend, ahead of some kind of announcement. A Skype person replied to my email query by saying, “Thanks for reaching out – as a matter of practice - Skype does not comment on rumor or speculation.”
Sources also say that Microsoft has entered the mix and is interested in either partnering with, acquiring or investing in Skype. While they are late entrants to this game, Microsoft’s interest makes sense for several reasons:
- Skype would givemMicrosoft a big boost in the hotly contested enterprise collaboration market places, thanks to Skype’s voice, video and sharing capabilities. It would be particularly useful for competing against Cisco and Google, two of its main rivals in the collaboration business.
- It would give them a must-have application/service that can help with the adoption of the future versions of Windows Mobile operating system.
- it would give Microsoft an outside chance of working with carriers, many of them looking to partner with Skype as they start to transition to LTE-based networks.
What is my take on all the rumors? First of all, this is not the first time we have heard them. While I clearly see value in these companies partnering with Skype, an acquisition doesn’t make much sense. But an investment from one of the three could give Skype the cash cushion as it waits out for its initial public offering, and could also be a way to buy out an antsy investor. And while a partnership would make sense for Facebook, it doesn’t need to acquire Skype — I’ve heard the two companies are about to make some kind of joint product announcement soon.
Photo of Microsoft Campus courtesy of Flickr User, Wonderlane under Creative Commons license.