SkypeBay?

Another day, another Skype rumor. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Skype is in talks with eBay, but from the article it seems, these are just talks. Yahoo, Google, NewsCorp… so now eBay. Who’s left? Microsoft? I am not sure what to make of the conversations, because frankly at $2-to-$3 billion, it doesn’t make sense for eBay to get into a whole new business. I can understand giving the consumers ability to click-and-call the seller/buyer.

But it can be done fairly cheaply and easily. When connecting to PSTN, eBay will then have to deal with all that comes with it, including a nosy and notoriously pesky FCC. Are they ready for it? Why not partner with someone – and there are enough desperate companies who will do this – and get the “voice apps” embedded into their products. There is a good reason why Yahoo’s Dialpad service still uses Net2Phone, and Google hasn’t touched the PSTN as yet.

Ari Jacoby, President and CEO of VoiceStar, a pay-per-call company emailed me with his thoughts, “Because 95% of the referral economy or lead generation business is offline (Rent.com), they (eBay) need a technology solution that is custom tailored to the performance-based marketing niche–one that allows merchants to pay for calls.”

A theoretical Ebay Pay per call offering is much more interesting than Ebay
morphing into MCI

Andy is normally right about a lot of things, but not this one. PaulK says, “color me baffled.” Fred Wilson says, “I think Skype is a bargain at $2bn to $3bn.” That’s a VC talking! :-)

Anyway this deal brings up all those issues I have been talking about for the longest time – their looming battle with Google, and the limit of the eBay network. In other words, two issues which hover over future growth like monsoon clouds.

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