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At Skype, Nightmare (almost) before Christmas

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Skype, a leading VoIP services provider and a division of eBay, went through a major reorganization this morning, which included axing of the entire business development part of the company, barring a handful of country heads.

Our sources say the a meeting was organized earlier today and most country division heads were invited to the London offices, where they were told of their pending dismissals. We have called eBay/Skype for a comment on the recent reorganization, and will update the post accordingly, once we have had a chance to converse with them.

Senior executives in Poland, France (Jerome Archambeaud, French Market Development Manager), UK (Alistair Shrimpton) and Italy have been let go, while Jonas Kjellberg, who headed up Skype’s Scandinavian operations has been redeployed in UK. Alberto Lorente, head of Skype in Spain and Portugal has been offered a position in London. In total about 14 people are leaving the company, many of them pre-merger employees. Many of them have till end of the year to finish their duties at the company.

Skype, in recent months has seen a steady exodus of senior executives, in what has been described as the ebay-i-zation of the company. James Bilefield, European general manager has also left the company.

Henry Gomez, Chief Marketing Officer & Director of Worldwide Operations, told the Skype Journal that “recentralization of marketing will improve message clarity, help Skype marketing move more quickly, and engage more marketing personnel in product decisions.” The recent moves shouldn’t come as a surprise as Gomez’s strength in marketing. He is increasingly the face of Skype, and is said to be running operations on day to day basis. The early Skype success was centered entirely on its business development strategy.

We have heard some sparse rumors of discord between the old timers and the eBay crowd. Normally we would not put much credence in this chatter, but the sustained exodus is giving us a reason to pause. EBay had acquired Skype for $4.2 billion, of which $2.6 billion was in cash, and rest in earnouts about a year ago. (At the speed with which most old timers are leaving, there is not much that is going to be earn out ;-)

20 Responses to “At Skype, Nightmare (almost) before Christmas”

  1. Skype has been a significant and valuable part of our business for the past few years. Personally, it has become my greatest resource in contacting my clients. Now that I am hearing lots of news and gossips about the future of Skype I really feel like it will be gone after some time. I don’t even know what’s the good substitute for it.

  2. Man, I’d love to be able to read the minutes of these meetings. I can’t see any reason why they need to axe these guys – but I don’t know the direction they’re trying to take. I suspect, though, that they’re making some big mistakes. I just hope Skype doesn’t lose it’s focus – doesn’t lose what made it so brilliant in the first place. Often when other companies take over, they want to come in with all their new ‘concepts’ and ideas and they actually ruin what made the company and product so good in the first place.

  3. One need not look farther than Apple and the Spindler years to see what happens to a successfully disruptive “tech” company when it’s taken over by “Marketing” folks.

    When I first heard that Skype was being aquired by eBay, I was willing to give it time to see what came of the acquisition; I haven’t been disappointed yet. I only hope that Skype continues to improve it’s client programs and network as it has in the past year.

    Good luck Neo-Skype, if you fail where you’ve risen, I’m more than sure someone will be there to pick up the pieces…

    (See Napster –> Kazaa, Spindler-Apple –> Jobs-Apple, SuprNova –> The Pirate Bay, for “torch grabbing” details)

  4. very ugly? no. very tough? yes.

    It’s not the same as 2003 or 2004 when you didn’t have competitors like vbuzzer or gizmo running the same kind of application but giving away most countries for free.

    I just don’t see skype will make any money any time soon.

  5. Suds McKenzie


    This is just a hunch, but I would guess that the pre-acquisition fire-ees are being scraped up off the London sidewalks right about now, if their buddies haven’t already tossed them into tart-filled private limos for the ride home (tart = hooker). As for the poor sods who joined Skype after the deal thinking they were joining a dynamic web 2.0 powerhouse, and then got fired a few weeks or months into the job, I guess they’ll be telling their kids “it’s scientific experiments for the lot of you”.

  6. if E Bay bought skype for the calibre of its team and the technical competency of its Enginner than its SAD to see this mass exodus of folks from skype .

    on a second thought in Hi Tech Team is always a Enggineering team . Biz dev guy are always considered overpaid overhead .E Bay is doing what comes naturally to a Valley based firm ..deception . they are pretending that thebiz team has nothing to add to the core competency of Skype . In a world run by enggineer who can’t talk to customer its sales team which face the world and field the furious customer on behalf of tech team and what they get once the party is over and cash is collected …This they get a boot and press and PR glorify it as a fat reducing,peanut butter,e baynization and god knows what

    I hate to say it but some time i feel like killing some of My Heroes in Hi Tech

  7. eBay playbook on acquisitions:
    – day 0-30: install senior eBay exec to run newco
    – day 0-90: some founders/of newco “retire” w/ $$$
    – 3 mos: install more senior eBay execs as newco VPs
    – 3-6 mos: do title “re-leveling” of newco emps to match eBay titles (typically means 1-2 level drop in seniority)
    – 6-12 mos: remove “troublesome” old newco execs & VPs who don’t buy in to eBay culture
    – 12 mos + 1 day: assimilation complete.