Skype’s Restructuring Makes Major Moves: New CxO Announcements

Over the past few months, announcements have been few and far between with respect to Skype product news. But at the same time I have often discussed Skype’s restructuring moves; the first official disclosure of a restructuring was disclosed in our September interview with Skype’s new President Josh Silverman. Well it appears that Josh has been busy doing interviews; today three top level appointments were announced:

Daniel Berg, previously Sun’s London-based Chief Technology Officer for Global Sales and Services as well as Vice-President of Systems Engineering for EMEA, has been appointed as Skype’s Chief Technology Officer, starting January 2, 2009. In a summary statement from Skype’s blog post:.

As CTO, Daniel Berg’s primary responsibility will be to drive innovation and ensure Skype continues to develop great software. With a mandate covering Skype’s full range of products, he will develop and maintain a global team of more than 300 staff.

Daniel has authored several books. But since he has not made any statements on his appointment yet, we could paraphrase a statement he made about his Sun activities last April in a post entitled “Travel, Talk, Repeat” on Sun’s “Contrarion Minds” blog:

So he travels. A lot.

“I actually spend 25 percent of my working day, on average, in the air,” says Berg, who is based in the U.K. “That’s not going to the airport, not coming home from airport, that’s in the air.”

He knows this because he sticks to a time budget.

“I know I need to be spending this much time with customers and this much with organizational matters and this much with employee development, to make sure I’m staying focused and balanced,” he explains.

His biggest challenge?

“Articulating the value Sun [Skype] has,” Berg replies. “I know this has been said before, but I’ve been at Sun 15 years and this is the best lineup of technology, products, and offerings we’ve ever had. Yet when I go talk to customers, one of the first things they say is, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you guys did that.'”

So we’ll be expecting you to become one of the more “public” faces of Skype. And that those air miles will keep on building up.

The second appointment is Christopher S. Dean as Chief Strategy Officer. From his LinkedIn profile, Christopher has a long history of working with startups, including periods on the venture capital side in Silicon Valley, most recently as co-founder of Texada Capital. At one point he and Skype’s GM Audio and Video Jonathan Christensen were colleagues in a San Francisco-based venture capital firm called Sweetwater Partners, whose Internet traces seem to have disappeared. From the Skype blog post announcement:

Christopher S. Dean will focus on Skype’s strategy, including the development of partnerships and strategic alliances with other like-minded organisations and the acquisition of companies and technologies for Skype. His team will act as the incubator and strategic planning hub for new ideas and projects which support Skype’s technology vision and long term corporate goals.

It appears that Christopher will be based out of Skype’s San Jose office; his responsibilities will be a key to driving Skype from a $500MM per year revenue business into the the multi-billion dollar revenues needed to justify eBay’s initial investment in Skype. Why the “S.”? I assume that Christopher is trying to avoid confusion with the U.K.’s Olympic Ice Dancing multiple Medallist Christopher Dean.

The final appointment, another key to ensuring Skype hires and maintains appropriately skilled and motivated employees, is the appointment of Anne Gillespie, whose long history of EMEA positions with Compaq and HP, brings the experience required to serve as head of Skype Human Resources.

There’s still one more major executive move I am expecting – a Chief Marketing Officer who bring the badly needed messaging and market communications strategies and disciplines required for a business that’s expected to attract sufficient usage to generate those multi-billion dollar sales.

And I’m sure Lee Dryburgh has no problem with my publicly inviting Dan and Christopher to join the rest of the Emerging Communications community at eComm 2009; after all Skype is a Platinum sponsor.

Best wishes for success, Dan, Christopher and Anne from Skype Journal.

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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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