Video Action Keeps Expanding: In addition to service launches on the video communications front, (Skype, SightSpeed), it was a week when we learned where Skype’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Jaanus Friis, may be spending some of their eBay-generated wealth. (Keep in mind that Niklas and Jaanus had VC partners with whom they shared probably a significant portion of that $2.6B sale price.) Phil has commented on their Venice Project, a forthcoming video play first revealed in a Business Week story. Om thinks it does not bode well from an eBay investor’s point of view:
“Whatever the case might be, this doesn’t look good from an eBay investor’s perspective.They spent $2.6 billion (and change) on Skype, and the two main guys are busy doing other projects.”
My take, having worked with many technology-based enterprises transitioning from startup to a sustainable expanding business, is that eBay has let Niklas and Jaanus go back to doing what they are best at – entrepreneurship – and have let their more operationally experienced managers take responsibility for growing Skype from an emerging ~$100 million annual revenue enterprise to the multi-billion per year revenues required to justify a $2.6 billion purchase price. As long as Niklas and Jaanus can input their suggestions and viewpoints into management decisions and do not go to a competitor, I would not lose any sweat as an investor over this situation.
Will Niklas Now Visit The U.S.? Towards the end of the week we learn that Niklas and Jaanus have “reached into their own pockets to help settle a lawsuit brought by the music and movie industries.” Om speculates on a link between settling the lawsuit and getting the Venice Project launched; No further word on the Streamcast or Net2Phone lawsuits. Will be interesting to see if Jeff Pulver can now convince Niklas to attend his Fall VON show; to date Niklas’ only North American appearances have been at VON Canada.
WiFi Phone for Skype – Who Are The Real Players Going To Be?: While SMC announced availability of their forthcoming WiFi Phone for Skype at a MSRP of $199, Om uncovers a report saying that the launch of the NetGear version “has been pushed out again and because of the delays, NETGEAR has now lost its exclusive partnership with Skype.” If I understand the Certification Program correctly, it sets bars for Skype Certification; however, I have never heard that “exclusive partnerships” are available with Skype. But NETGEAR certainly generated high expectations since their big press launch at CES in January. From the recent Skype press release, it seems like Skype has been working with four hardware partners on WiFi Phones for Skype.
Skype Toolbars Update: Skype finally issued a press release for the complete range of Skype Toolbars; we reported on them when the new releases actually became available at the beginning of July. A hotfix release of the Skype Office Toolbar this week has added support for Visio, Access and Project; the beauty of this particular Toolbar is the ability to transfer the file you are actually working on via Skype’s File Transfer in a single step while the file remains open.