By Leena Rao
As the New York Times reported, Skype’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, are in talks with several private equity firms and are amassing their own financial resources to make a bid for the internet phone business. eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) bought Skype from Zennstrom and Friis for around $3.1 billion in 2005. We reported last year that eBay would be willing to sell Skype if the company couldn’t support eBay’s core ecommerce business.
eBay has been having trouble finding ways of using Skype across its other products. eBay removed Skype co-founder and CEO Niklas Zennstrom in October 2007, reportedly due to frustration at the financial performance of Skype. eBay also negotiated down the huge earnout due to Skype stockholders and took a $936 million one-time loss around the transaction.
As we wrote last spring, a sale was projected to be likely late last year or in the first half of this year. Of course, with the economy in such poor condition, the sale was probably put off momentarily. There was something brewing between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Skype last spring, but nothing came of it. Google recently launched its own voice product, Google Voice (formerly Grand Central).
Skype recently launched a nifty iPhone app, which was downloaded 1 million times in the first two days of its release. Skype recently made a move to be a player in the enterprise space, but it wasn’t clear how much of a money-maker the new service would be.
There’s no doubt that Skype brings a lot to the table but eBay was probably just not the right buyer. Skype’s scalable technology and a proven platform in the VOIP, VOIP2POTS and P2P Video is impressive to say the least. The service currently has more than 405 million registered users.
Following their respective departures from Skype, Zennstrom and Friis formed VC firm Atomico and founded online video/TV site Joost.