Skype CEO, not investors, made the key cuts

Microsoft Skype Ballmer Bates

Skype CEO Tony Bates — and not the company’s private equity investors — were behind Skype’s decision to part ways with many of its senior managers, a company spokesperson told GigaOM. Skype Journal reported earlier that a whole gaggle of senior-level executives had been cut from Skype.

Those who were let go included  David GurléChristopher DeanRuss ShawDon AlbertDoug Bewsher and Anne Gillespie. Later, Bloomberg News reported that Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, who joined Skype via its Qik acquisition, were cut too.

The company, according to Brian O’Shaughnessy, Skype’s PR chief, is rationalizing its operations and is focusing its resources on engineering and product. Reports in other media outlets have indicated that it is the private equity investors who might be behind the cuts. “It is Tony’s decision,” said O’Shaughnessy.

Bloomberg report indicated that the firings would reduce the value of the payouts to those executives, though investors in Skype dismiss that talk. Skype investors say that most of these executives are getting about 75 percent of the payouts due to them.

That said, Skype as a company isn’t known to be generous with its employees when it comes to doling out options. That was true in both the pre- and post-eBay days. Nevertheless, I don’t think we have heard the last of this development, so stay tuned.

Our buddy Andy Abramson notes that Christopher Dean was unfairly treated.

The one guy of the bunch who I can single out who deserves some solid recognition is Christopher Dean. He headed up corporate strategy and was the guy who likely did the most to help Skype move along for the future. The last two deals he did that the Silicon Valley echo chamber should take note of was Skype’s acquisition of QIK and the partnership with Comcast, both of which he put together.

Dean’s a solid corporate and business development guy, a star in some rights, and he clearly did his job after being brought in under Jonathan Silverman, who is now at AMERICAN EXPRESS. The move on QIK saved Skype millions in potential royalties for video compression and streaming delivery technology that they would have to continue to pay Google and others. The Comcast move makes Dean the first exec to successfully sell a video calling solution to Comcast in the last two decades. It’s a play that’s been tried before, and everyone else came up short. Dean was also reportedly one of the masterminds behind the “let’s IPO to get acquired strategy” long before even the Silver Lake folks came along.

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