If we go back to our early September interview with Josh Silverman where we discussed “The Way Ahead – Platforms and Partners”, Josh stated in response to our question about addressing ongoing partner communications issues:
I take the partner program really seriously and we’re aware that we’ve not invested adequately behind it and want to do more. The first thing we are going to do is hire an experienced, capable leader of that organization who will pull together for me a plan for what resources do we need to invest in — engineering, partner support, evangelism, technical documentation — to make sure we build an organization that can support our partners robustly.
What I don’t want to do is over promise. Step one is, when you get somebody good in, lay out a plan and then when we’re ready to announce some more forward looking things we’ll do that.
Skype is about to take “Step one” and has put up a job posting for a “Manager, Skype Developer Community“.
Interested in an extraordinary opportunity to win the hearts and minds of developers all over the world? Are you passionate about the promise of rich Internet communications? If so, Skype needs you to come help change the industry. We are seeking an individual who can help provide knowledge, expertise, and charisma for partners building applications on the Skype Platform.
A comment about the Skype platform:
The Skype Platform provides developers with an open communications development environment with unparalleled richness and reach. With the Skype platform developers can build and deploy differentiated and revenue-generating communications applications, devices, and services for businesses and consumers alike. Since its launch 5 years ago, Skype has grown to over 330  Million registered users across the globe. Skype provides a breadth of rich and integrated communications experiences. Now we are looking for developers to take those capabilities and experiences to another level by integrating Skype into applications, devices, and services on the web. If you are interested in voice over IP, mobile devices, audio coding, video services, rich collaboration, gaming, next generation internet / interactive TV, Location based services and experience as a leader within a community of developers… this is the role for you.
And the challenge:
Your challenge is to drive the Skype Community program that moves the new platform forward, compliments our platform product investments and ultimately delights our partner community and users. Your success will be measured by your ability to work closely with the product teams to develop a comprehensive developer marketing plan, and work with our marketing, product, and business development teams to evangelize Skype’s tools, development environment, and unique value proposition to the development community.
You will be part of the newly formed Skype Platform team whose mission is to lead the adoption of Skype’s Platform with developers and ISVs. The team is resourced and chartered to secure the future of the Skype Platform with developer audiences that span corporate and commercial developers, device developers, next generation developers in startups, students and social developers that writes plug-ins, widgets and mash-up applications today.
It’s a senior management position with responsibilities for leading a renewed Skype Developer program – articulating the vision, analyzing the market space and established best practices, executing on building sustainable developer partnerships, driving the interface between internal Skype resource teams such as developers, business development, marketing and the external developer partners through various outreach activities.
After describing the skills and experience sought, the posting concludes with:
You will be responsible for managing a team of professionals that will support your programs and plans to create a significant and long lasting impact on the community of Skype Software developers. We are looking for a thought leader that can also motivate and raise the enthusiasm of all Skype developers. This is a position with lots of visibility outside of Skype and experience managing media and driving public events is critical.
Location: London, UK or San Jose, CA. (With lots of air miles guaranteed.)
As for Dan York’s question about “the team is resourced and chartered”, recall that earlier in the same early September interview, Josh mentioned:
Right now we have created the job of GM of Platform; I hope to very soon name a GM of Platform. That person is going to have to really work on what does the architecture need to look like to support this, what are the API’s going to be – reference UI’s, technical documentation – as well as evangelizing to the broader community forming some of our partnerships, so we have some work to do.
So, I have to ask, in the context of what we heard during the interview: Has Skype appointed the GM of Platform but not announced it yet?
Dan also comments:
For those of us watching the emerging communication/telephony space, we’ve seen Skype make several different attempts over the years to create a successful developer program. Given their incredible user base and platform, it’s been curious to see that they haven’t yet found the right formula.
The Developer Program has more or less stalled since my Primer series post last fall discussing the developer partner achievements to that point in time. Yet there remain some basic resources such as API’s, a base of about 50 partner applications, and what continues to be world leading technology that gives Skype a head start in architecting and building a complete platform from which developer partners can build successful businesses.
In the meantime we have seen the evolution of the Apple Developer Program for the iPhone where, even with my bias towards the BlackBerry, I have to admit that we have seen some very interesting, innovative and impressive third party applications and mashups. They link voice, presence, location-based services, social networking, search. The results include obtaining real time information for traffic and transit, contributing to a successful US presidential political campaign and finding the nearest Tim Hortons or Starbucks. The most interesting has to be this week’s launch of voice activated Google Search, often invoking location based information for assistance.
The overriding challenge for Skype’s Developer Community Manager will be to create a winning environment that can foster a similar level of creativity and innovation while generating business wins for both Skype and the developer partners. Or to requote Josh’s statement: “to make sure we build an organization that can support our partners robustly.”
From my viewpoint, it’s the position that will ultimately make or break the restructured Skype. Partner innovation and successful business development are key to the sustainable and increasing revenues required to justify eBay’s investment in Skype.
Hat tip to Dan York who first pointed this out in a Twitter tweet.
Tags: Skype, Developer, Skype Extras, Josh Silverman, iPhone, Dan York, Skype Partner Program