The Skype Spinout Version 2.0

Skype Sold! So it’s finally resolved. The Skype spinout from eBay will involve Skype’s founders as investors and board members while contributing a cash investment. Skype finally owns the core intellectual property required for Skype to operate at its current cost levels. eBay gets the cash they were looking for but 5% less of the new Skype. Canadians still get to invest $16.75 each through the government operated Canada Pension Plan. Marc Andreesen gets involved with another major Internet play. Mike Volpi and Index Ventures are out of the picture. Lawyers and consultants are probably heftily rewarded for all the litigation activity leading to the final resolution. Incessant speculation on Skype Journal’s Skype 5.x Public Chat about how to get around JoltID’s Global Index software will finally cease (well, maybe).

While I have put links to several posts leading up to the resolution below it has been most interesting to read various bloggers comments on the resolution and the future direction for Skype:

Phil Wolff at Skype Journal sums up the numbers in his post, Sold! The Bullets and values the JoltID intellectual property at $275 million. (Phil gets credit for the graphic above, by the way.)

Om picks the winners and losers on My Thoughts on the Skype Settlement: Winners & Losers Scorecard. He points out the “great spin quote” from Silver Lake as a leftover from the “PR spin” days prior to the transparency that comes with social networking. Come on, guys. We’ve all seen the depositions and emails. As for the future, Om comments:

No Silver Lining?: One person who I totally feel for is Silverman, the current CEO of Skype. He gets to run a company which will have the looming presence of its founders.

Whatever the press spin might say, the new investor group is like a poisoned well. It will be a polarized group, always looking over their shoulders. Silverman is going to need to keep a lot of people happy, and those board meetings with nearly two-dozen people aren’t going to be fun, either. But as Biggie Small once said:

“It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”

Both Kara Swisher at All Things Digital, in All Is Forgiven: “It’s a Clean Slate,” Says Andreessen About Lawsuit-Mad Skype Co-Founders, and Dan Primack at PEHub, in 5 Skype Questions for Marc Andreessen, interviewed Marc Andreeson of Andreeson Horowitz. The common statement about his relationship with Niklas and Janus:

We have not been in business with them before, so we don’t have any baggage at all. Our view is that they’re two super-creative founders. We’ve known lots of legendary founders, and they are all different and have things that make them unique. We include ourselves in that from past experiences. We view ourselves as a pro-founder firm, so we like the idea of founders being involved. It’s a net positive.

Martin Varsavsky. CEO of FON, a company partially financed by many of the same players in the Skype sale, restricts his comments to his thoughts on the future of Skype – where is Skype vulnerable?, where are its strengths? – in Why it may make sense to buy Skype back. His overriding statement:

Skype is simple. Michael Arrington and all of Silicon Valley may find Google Voice amazing but is the average global citizen ready to use it? Massively use it? You download Skype, you find your friends on Skype, you talk. And, if you don’t find them, you Skype out. And when you talk you can also do video. I LOVE video calls on Skype. I used to use them for people I really cared about, relatives, close friends. Now I even do business calls on video with Skype. It just gives you more of a sense of what is going through the other person´s mind. And Skype is the leader on video quality. So simplicity plus video may be a good way to beat flat plans from telcos and avoid being Tivoed. If the video services can migrate to mobile phones Skype is on to something.

Andy Abramson, in The Skype Suit Is Settled-Now Business Can Get On, comments:

I’m just glad the suit is settled between eBay and Skype. Now a lot of things that have been held back can finally move forward. In many ways the settlement is a good thing. The return of the original founders means disruption will continue, and new ideas will flourish. It also means Skype as a business or brand will now have a chance to prove its worth.

Alec Saunders, in eBay’s big mistake; Why the JoltID license was inevitable, concludes:

The lesson in all this? Deals involving technology licenses and acquisitions are common in business. When acquiring a technology asset, buyers must acquire the necessary control needed in order to protect the business.  Either buy, or license in perpetuity, what you need to prosper. Unless your intent is to immediately begin work on a substitute technology, a license for core technology that needs renewal is a sure way to find yourself caught by the short-hairs in a future negotiation.

The bottom line is that Skype is now in a position to focus on building future communications software and services without the distraction of depositions, legal wrangling and media curiosity. Provided he can navigate through a 23-member board with diverse interests and experiences, Josh Silverman can build the real communications software business of providing infrastructure for conversations while having a wealth of technology and business connections available in an advisory role.

Previous Posts:

Om’s trail:

Kara Swisher (All Things Digital):

  • Volpi and Index Ventures Out of Skype Deal, the Lawsuit-Happy Founder Twins In (Nov. 3 with lots of links to related stories)
  • I Love the Smell of Settlement in the Morning: Skype Founders Set to Get 10 Percent, Option to Buy Three Percent More and Two Board Seats (Nov. 3)
  • All Is Forgiven: “It’s a Clean Slate,” Says Andreessen About Lawsuit-Mad Skype Co-Founders (Nov. 6)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

About Jim Courtney

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to The Skype Spinout Version 2.0