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Skype co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis are at it again. After disrupting the music and voice cartel’s operations, the duo is taking on television. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. I had reported on that as part of the Business 2.0’s June 2006 cover story, The 50 Who Matter Now. In the little profile on the boys, we mentioned, “Their next move is rumored to be a company that will enable peer-to-peer television. If experience is any guide, broadcast and cable TV execs should be afraid. Very afraid.”
Now Business Week has dug-up more details on the company, which has hired software engineers in nearly six major cities. So far, it seems the project, dubbed, The Venice Project, has been funded by eBay millions that lined the dynamic duo’s pockets. Whatever the case might be, this doesn’t look good from an eBay investor’s perspective.They spent $2.6 billion (and change) on Skype, and the two main guys are busy doing other projects.
Business Week says that Zennstrom and Friis are really engaged with the company and what not, but if you been in the industry long enough, you know that is marketing speak at its best.
According to Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesperson, Zennstrom and Friis were always expected to look into new ventures because that’s what they do well. “We have encouraged those guys to explore different ideas and different concepts that they find interesting,” Durzy said.
Hey how about focusing on something the company paid $2.6 billion. Isn’t that what should be top of their mind. I guess that additional $1.5 billion in earn outs doesn’t really matter for the boys. Meanwhile, eBay might invest in the new company, reports Business Week, because the auction giant could provide commerce expertise to this television venture if it makes it to the finish line.
PS: I have a part two of this story coming, but not till middle of this week.