Zennstrom Steps Down As Skype CEO; eBay Still Paying: Will Take $1.43B Charge in Q3

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eBay’s (NSDQ: EBAY) Skype acquisition is still bleeding money, and Skype CEO Niklas Zennstrom is taking the money and well, running…he has stepped down. And yes, Joost needs him, to get some juice going.

eBay will take an impairment charge of about $1.43 billion in its Q3, due in part to payments it made to some Skype shareholders as part of the earn-out agreement, reports AP. It has already paid $530 million to settle future obligations it and an additional $900 million as impairment charges.

Michael van Swaaij, eBay chief strategy officer, will take over as acting CEO of Skype until a full-time successor is found. Also, Skype President Henry Gomez will return to eBay as SVP for corporate affairs.

Skype was acquired by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion, with shareholder earnout of $1.7 billion depending on performance levels in 2008 and the first half of 2009. EBay said the $530 million payment “is reasonable given the progress and anticipated rapid growth of Skype’s active user base.” Meaning the earlier amount wasn’t…31 percent of the earlier promised amount isn’t exactly how a “reasonable progress” might have gone.

Update: Via a rare blog post, co-founder Janus Friis addresses the earn-out: “Writing this it is probably out in the open that we have negotiated an early settlement of the earn out that was part of the deal when we sold Skype to Ebay in September 2005. … Earn-outs are inherently difficult creatures, but we are happy with the result of this one. We are approximately half way into the earn-out period and the settlement amounts to one-third of the total possible earn-out amount.” He says Zennstrom remains as chairman “for some time.” In addition to mentioning Joost, he also writes about taking their risk capital group Atomico, which has “quietly” invested in at least 11 companies (Technorati, FON Last.fm, etc.) “to the next level.”

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