Executive Problems at Skype
In pretty disturbing and developing news, we heard from Om Malik that seven-year eBay professional Alex Kazim is no longer heading up Skype. That would make Kazim's tenure at Skype a short six months since he was only appointed in July this year! In his place, Henry Gomez, currently CMO and Director of Operations for Skype, will be taking the lead.
Malik claims there has been a "major corporate development" related to earn-out issues [recall part of the consideration paid for Skype was in the form of an earn-out based on revenue and growth targets] and the recent reorganization. Skype staff were apparently informed of the changes late last week.
Without the benefit of any additional information, I would GUESS the problem is that the earn-out targets are looking like they won't be met, possibly costing the original Skype team up to $1.5 billion in earn-out consideration. With that kind of money at stake, you can imagine the finger-pointing that takes place. The original Skype team probably claims that the strategy eBay has imposed on them [including the reorganization] is the root cause of the shortfall. The eBay team probably claims that regardless of the reason, the targets are below the business plan they bought into and no earn-out is due.
Following the publication of this news, eBay issued a press release playing down the management change. The release even includes the following quote from Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom:
"Without Alex, Skype would not be as far along as it is today. I'm sorry to see him head home, but look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role with Meg [Whitman, eBay President and CEO]."
Seems that if there are any hard feelings, the PR team has done a good job at keeping them on the inside.
eBay China to Split in Three?
The China rumor-mill continues on full power. The latest rumor, brought to us by Shanghai Daily, is that eBay will sell a proportion of the Chinese division of Paypal to Tom Group for cooperation. eBay Eachnet will still be run by eBay directly, and Kijiji will run independently. Make what you like of the report - I am no longer making predictions for China.