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October 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 10
Publisher’s Outlook

Eyes to the Skype

The 20th ITEXPO (News - Alert), which began on Sept. 1, 2009, was nothing if not full of buzz and industry news thanks to Skype, which has been a news-generating machine.

As ITEXPO opened, news of Skype (News - Alert) being sold broke. Ebay received $1.9 billion in cash from a group of investors including Netscape and Ning founder Marc Andreessen, and the value of the company currently works out to $2.75 billion. As a side note, I think I may have been the only person who thought the eBay (News - Alert) purchase of Skype for a super-high valuation of about $4 billion in 2005 made sense. What I didn’t know at the time was that eBay wasn’t going to try to integrate the companies in a serious manner. Yes, it is still shocking to me that the company says there were no synergies between Skype and their core business. Just showing ads for auctions should have generated huge amounts of revenue for the company. Then there is this list of items – most of which were never were acted on. Another option I suggested was to show Google (News - Alert) ads on Skype, which I predicted could have grown the bottom line by billions.


By now it is well-known that the technology that gives Skype its P2P smarts is actually being licensed by Joltid Ltd., a company in control of Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, two people who left eBay on not quite the best terms and who are currently suing the auction leader and if they win they could shut Skype down. At ITEXPO, the talk was that the Skype acquisition was at a high valuation because there were some behind-the-scenes discussions about the outcome of the lawsuit.

Since that time Joost (News - Alert) said they are removing Mike Volpi from his role as chairman. Joost was also founded by Friis and Zennström and the conflict seems to have been caused by his roles both at Joost and private-equity firm Index Ventures, one of the firms involved in the Skype purchase.

Folks, the last time we had this much excitement in communications was when someone hacked into Paris Hilton’s mobile device.

At one time Zennström mentioned to me that before the idea to build Skype he considered launching Joost and that there wasn’t enough bandwidth at the time so he started a VoIP company instead. He further mentioned he can see a time when Skype and Joost would integrate with one another. It is unclear if that will ever happen now. In fact the only thing that is clear to me regarding Skype these past weeks is that nothing is clear.

Digium (News - Alert), Shoretel PBX Connectivity

But perhaps that isn’t 100 percentage correct, for while the world was digesting the news of Skype being acquired, the company was busy integrating with PBX vendors. At ITEXPO in fact Skype announced Skype for Asterisk (News - Alert) Software and shortly thereafter, ShoreTel was first to market with Skype for SIP interoperability.

No Extras Credit

On top of that, Skype nixed its Extras program, leaving many developers hanging. Mystifying! If I were to devise a way to anger as many developers as I could I wouldn’t have to think – I would just duplicate what Skype just did. IT

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