Skype CEO Josh Silverman — Thoughts After the First Four Weeks.

Skype internal blogger Villu Arak today published an interview with Skype’s new CEO, Josh Silverman. Josh has had four weeks, spent largely with the developer team in Tallinn, to dig into Skype’s activities and to start to triage a picture of where Skype should be heading. Read Villu’s complete interview but a few key statements:

Initial observations:

Where I can perhaps add value is to help us focus us on the “Vital Few” – the (very) few things we’re going to commit to delivering with excellence; as opposed to the “Worthless Many” – the long list of very good ideas which, if we tried to tackle them all, would bring us to our knees. The hard part about prioritization isn’t saying “no” to bad ideas, that’s easy. It’s saying ”no” to the good ones in order to deliver on the truly essential and/or breakthrough projects that really drives focus through an organization.

Core interest of the Skype community at heart:

Besides keeping communication within the Skype cloud free, there are two things we need to deliver very well: incredible ease of use and world-class sound and video. Everything else wins us bonus points.

Skype’s priorities in 2008 and beyond:

….this year we’ll make video — including multiparty video — more prominent and, er, easier to use. But more generally, I talk about end-to-end ease of use. It goes far beyond making the green call button easier to find. We’re looking at every aspect, every stage of the user journey. From when you download the client and make your first call, all the way through the range of products we have, from the desktop to mobile. We’re going to focus on where the biggest pain-points are along that journey, in order to make the whole experience seamless and delightfully easy.

Existing things you’d like to fix:

At the top of my “now” agenda is this: radical ease of use. Skype still confuses some people, so we’re digging even deeper to achieve step function change.

On developer partners:

Philosophically speaking, I do think we need to continue building a robust ecosystem and supporting the developer community as best we can. I’m taking a little time to understand where we are and what the next steps should be. Soon, I’ll share more thoughts on this on the Skype Developer Zone blog.

And on the prospect of eBay selling Skype:

Skype is a strong, profitable business with 61% year-on-year revenue growth and 309 million registered users, with 33 million added in Q1 2008. eBay has just made a huge investment in Skype by removing the earn-out. We have new management in place, and with the earnout out of the way, we measure ourselves by our ability to delight our users. [SJ link added] That’s our focus. That’s our test.

We understand that Josh will make himself available for external interviews within the next few weeks, once he has had time to complete his review of Skype’s entire business. There are lots of challenges in Josh’s statements and lots of promise. As he stated at the end of one response: "But let me get through the first hundred days and let’s take stock of our progress in the summer."

Tags: Skype, Josh Silverman, Villu Arak, Skype Blog, Skype video, Skype audio, Skype Developer Program

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About Jim Courtney

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

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Skype 4.0 for Windows Beta 1 — Call for User Feedback | Voice on the Web - May 20, 2009

    […] While over the years, over 300 million have figured out how to download and install Skype, it’s become apparent that, in the end, it’s the user experience that will drive more massive Skype adoption. Finding those initial contacts, getting the speaker/mic working properly, ensuring you have a good Internet connection and determining what hardware is optimal for a good Skype experience is all part of Skype’s ongoing research and development. And perhaps the most important of these is having a user interface that “delights the user”. Certainly new Skype President Josh Silverman has indicated this as a primary goal for Skype. […]

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