A Conversation with Skype CEO Josh Silverman

skype_logo1[1] At last month’s CES I had the opportunity to meet with Skype CEO Josh Silverman and discuss various Skype issues that have arisen over the past year as well as where Skype is headed as a privately owned company. At the time I thought this would result in a normal text-based blog post outlining some of our discussion.

However, when I arrived for the interview I realized it would also be a good occasion to try out the HD video recording feature of a relatively new Canon SD980 camera. Over the past week I have been using a new MacBook’s iMovie and found I could edit it down to a fairly succinct outcome, having eliminated much of my own nervous glitches, personal comments and humming and hawing. Most importantly, Josh makes a much better presenter of Skype’s case than I could ever hope to do in reporting on the interview. The result follows.

In this first portion we talk about

  • Skype operating as an independent, private company and the role the new board members can play,
  • the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s participation as an investor (full disclosure – about 17 million employed or formerly employed Canadians have an interest in CPPIB investments),
  • what performance numbers can we expect to see going forward
  • the prospects for an IPO
  • what’s on the CEO’s radar as priorities for Skype
  • what’s going to be available for developer partners

(My apologies to fellow Canadians for not asking about Skype Online numbers in Canada but, given there are regulatory issues involved, I’d probably get the standard “we’d love to do it but…” response. For mention of a Skype service that is being expanded into Canada, see the second portion of the interview with Skype for Mobile VP & GM Russ Shaw.)

In the second portion of the conversation we covered issues such as

  • the growth of the Skype developer team
  • Skype’s evolving mobile presence, including Skype for BlackBerry and video calling on mobile devices
  • the launch of a formal Skype for Business program
  • Skype’s video calling as a new pop culture
  • Skype and the broadcast television market

Complementary to the “pop culture” discussion here, at Josh’s keynote presentation to the CES Innovation Leaders dinner, he spoke about how Skype video calling has brought to consumers the most effective realization of AT&T’s 1964 World’s Fair video calling vision where they introduced a very primitive video calling setup.

Bottom line: what can we expect to see from Skype in 2010?

  • a revitalized developer program built around a more comprehensive platform from which developers can, amongst other features, embed Skype into their applications
  • Skype access on many more mobile platforms as well as taking advantage of wireless carriers’ recognition of Skype as a mainstream telecommunications environment
  • expansion of video calling services, including a strong role in the introduction of Internet services as a feature on a new generation of television sets;
  • launch of a formal comprehensive Skype for Business program targeted at small-to-medium businesses
  • many more Skype video interviews on broadcast media – for example, Skype video (and voice) calling has been used quite extensively by several networks to facilitate communications with Haiti following the earthquake

This is the third of three Skype executive interviews that took place at CES 2010; the others:

Other relevant posts:

  • FREETALK Connect: Liberating Small Business from the Telco Oligopoly
  • FREETALK’s New Webcam Product Line: Delivering 720p HD to Skype Video Calling
  • Skype Video Calling on Your TV? Maybe, Maybe Not: It’s Your Call

Full disclosure: In Store Solutions, producer of the FREETALK line of hardware for Skype, has become a client of Denali InterConneXions, publisher of Voice On The Web, building on the author’s previous business development experience with establishing partnerships that can assist with the promotion of a primary vendor’s offerings. A more complete statement will follow shortly.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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