eBay Watch: Skype CEO Steps Down, Desktop Beta Launched and More

| About: eBay Inc. (EBAY)
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A number of key developments to note for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) watchers:

Niklas Zennstrom No Longer Skype CEO

eBay announced yesterday that Niklas Zennstrom has stepped down as CEO of Skype but will remain as non-executive chairman of the Skype Board of Directors. As readers will recall, Zennstrom co-founded Skype in 2003 before selling it to eBay for $2.5 billion. Equally important, the announcement clarifies that the pending earn-out of an additional $1.7 billion has been settled with a one-time payment of $530 million.

This is mixed news for eBay. On the one hand, Zennstrom is surely an inspirational and iconic figure within Skype. On the other, Skype really needed to find a fully committed CEO that was not involved in peripheral ventures (such as Joost).

The reduced earn-out payment is clearly an indication growth at Skype has been far from what EBAY had hoped at the time of the acquisition. Furthermore, could the fact that the search for a full-time replacement has only just started be indicative of a premature resignation on the part of Zennstrom resulting from failed earn-out discussions? In any case, an additional $530 million is not insignificant although it does elimiate an element of uncertainty.

eBay Desktop Beta Launched

Congratulations to Alan Lewis and his team for launching the first public beta of EBAY Desktop. As I mentioned in a previous post, eBay Desktop (previously known as Project San Dimas) is a program that resides and runs from your own hard drive but uses eBay's extensive breadth of API's to bring you the functionality of the website along with new desktop-only features.

Download it now and let me know what you think. International users please note, the public beta release is operational for the US site only for the time being.

Harry Potter Sells for $37,000

Just when you thought the Harry Potter mania was behind us, EBAY has set the stage for another amazing charity auction. The British charity Books Abroad has sold what is claimed to be the world's only full Harry Potter series signed by the author herself for £18,200 (about $37,000).

The Spice Girls’ Comeback Concert

The Spice Girls’ London comeback concert has sold out in just 38 seconds. And as with any event or product in which demand far outstrips supply, eBay always benefits. In the case of tickets, eBay operates the incredibly successful StubHub! site in the US. In the UK however, eBay relies on its traditional eBay marketplace to monetize ticket auctions. In fact, there are already over 2000 lots selling Spice Girl tickets on ebay.co.uk. As with other recent high profile events, this incredible reallocation of tickets to the highest bidders (in some cases from speculators which bought low to sell high) is likely to be criticized by organizers and select fans. This is where eBay UK could benefit from a local version of StubHub! whose sole purpose is ticket sales, in many cases by organizers themselves.