The Skype Restructuring: Global Products, Regional Markets

skype_logoJosh Silverman joined Skype as President early in the spring of 2008; since then he has been reviewing Skype’s opportunities and building a team of experienced executives who can bring to Skype the products, programs and team building expertise required to operate a business with a run rate of $600MM per year, 20% contribution margins to eBay and growing at 380,000 new account registrations per day (with “real user” growth also increasing significantly).

Skype Organizational StructureSummarizing the past executive appointment announcements we can clearly start to see the evolution of a business structure, along with each unit’s responsibilities:

  • Operations: Product, Marketing, Customer Care, Support
  • Technology: Engineering, Platform, Development Community
  • Strategy: Partnerships, Strategic Alliances, Acquisitions
  • Administration: Global Communications Human Resources. Finance, and Legal round out the top executive team.

During our interview at CES 2009 with Skype COO Scott Durchslag, he outlined details of his restructuring of Skype’s Operations team along two axes: product and geography under the mantra of providing “Skype Everywhere”.

Global product offerings will encompass three divisions: consumer, business and mobile, each responsible for developing products. Each of these groups will be interacting with members of CTO Daniel Berg’s technology teams to convert their technology developments into marketable global product offerings and to adapt the technology to meet product marketing needs.

  • Consumer will involve the current Skype client desktop offerings along with hardware, such as Skype phones.
  • Business starts with the current Skype Business Control Panel but intends to expand well beyond this starting point into a range of offerings, such as Skype for Asterisk and the recently announced IBM LotusLive developments, addressing the small-to-medium business market.
  • Mobile involves current products such as Skype for Windows Mobile, Skypephone (in conjunction with iSkoot), the recently launched Skype Lite (including Skype for Android) as well as any upcoming offerings for the iPhone and BlackBerry

In addition each of these divisions will be responsible for developing appropriate customer care and support programs appropriate to market demands. For instance, the business unit will come up with ongoing support programs relevant to supporting sustainable business operations of its products’ users. Ideally these programs would follow the model of Red Hat for Linux or Digium for Asterisk and build up a network of resellers and VARS who would provide relevant and timely end user support. While Dan Berg’s technology team will be responsible for third party developer partner support, an additional challenge for the Business products group will be to assist with marketing of business applications offered by these developer partners.

While Skype veteran Stefan Oberg is heading up the Business unit, announcements re appointments to head up Consumer and Mobile are pending.

Along the geography axis is a recognition that, while the Products divisions have a global mandate, there are different market needs within different regions of the world. For instance, in many Asian market wireless carriers do not subsidize mobile phones as is the North American practice. This requires a differentiated approach to these markets with respect to how easily innovations, especially around reduced calling costs, can be introduced to these markets.

The geographical market responsibilities are:

  • Americas: Don Albert becomes General Manager, Americas. Don has had North America responsibility for a couple of years and will now be responsible for both North and South America. With respect to the latter he is looking forward to building on all the Skype activity in Brazil, for instance. (And, yes, once again at CES Don was made aware we are awaiting SkypeIn and a Skype Store for Canada)
  • Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA): appointment pending
  • Asia/Pacific: Yesterday we saw an announcement of the appointment of Dan Neary as General Manager, Skype Asia Pacific. One of Dan’s initial responsibilities will be to build and monitor closer relationships with partners such as TOMSkype to avoid embarrassments such as that created by the TOM Skype privacy breach we have reported on last fall.

Outstanding executive appointments are expected shortly; at this point it’s becoming all about execution. The next six months will tell the story.

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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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