SkypeMe Your eBay Bids


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.


Bryan Bartow

If eBay charges a nickel or dime to add that “Skype Me” button to the listing (like they do with a lot of their add-ons) they will start to make that money back, albeit slowly. What I think is really driving the Skype purchase is the fact that the next step for eBay is services. I believe eBay is going to have to start selling people, and their knowledge, as a service. For example, my grandmother needs help with a computer issue. She goes on eBay and does a search for Services->Computers->Technical Support. She sees a listing of all the people who provide that service. She can see who has the highest feedback rating and, through presence, see who’s actually online at that very moment. She calls the person through Skype and hopefully gets the help she needs. I’m also fairly certain I’ve seen a VNC/RDC like plug-in for Skype, so maybe that person takes control of her desktop through Skype and fixes the problem while she watches. She gets charged by the minute and the expert and eBay split the money however eBay decides to split it. It’s just my opinion, but I think that’s where eBay is headed.

Scott Rafer

There were Skype Me buttons on Chinese eBay pages at the time of the acquisition. It was part of Whitman’s slideshow at the time.


Skype is Hype till something is brought together like a Buyer/Seller…think outside the box to 2008 or 2009 when most folks just associate buying something with clicking EBAY and then click to call about something will be the norm…I think EBAY has a few more ”’tricks” up its sleeve myself=====now, 4.1 Billion is WAY WAY WAY too much but is it down the road????????



I always thought the Skype buyout by Ebay was a somewhat strange fit. But I guess they had ideas on how they were going to combine the strengths of the two technologies.

internet phone service


I am not surprized to read that ebay paid $4.1 billion for Skype.

Most big internet companies grew very fast with billions of dollars which venture capitalists poured into them.

Now they don’t know what to do with all those billions of dollars but to spend it to buy a membership website for $4.1 billion dollars. (which can be created for a mere $1 million dollars easily)

Skype has a great internet phone communication service, but is it worth $4.1 billion dollars? This is the issue.
Ebay, goodluck.


Robert Spivack

Ah, but Skype on eBay is double-edge sword.

It facilitates “out of network” deals. Just close the deal on the phone and cancel the auction or sell additional items outside of eBay.

Currently, there is an email “trace” that can be used to report you if one solicits sales outside of the listed items but with voice, there is no record and if they start recording, there will be big objections about privacy, etc.


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

My understanding is that eBay was also very interested in the serverless model upon which Skype’s network is built, which makes it much easier to scale.

Don’t know if it helps making $4.1 billion look more reasonable…


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.


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.


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…

Om Malik

John Hanger,

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


“. 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.


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.

John Hanger

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

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

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