Bizarre as it may seem it appears the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, are back in the news as a potential purchaser of Skype which they sold to eBay in 2005 for $3.1 billion.
Having scarpered with the money and left eBay to take a massive hit writing down the value of Skype, they’re now considering repurchasing the company. In the last few years they’ve played with Joost and created Atomico, a venture capital firm, but now it appears they want Skype back.
Skype, although it’s attracted reams of bad press through the over-inflated price eBay paid, is hugely profitable adding an impressive $100 million plus a year to eBays bottom line. It’s still a young company, largely still based on users PCs, but the potential for embedding into other devices is almost unlimited. Since the Skype app for the iPhone was released over 2 million iPhone users have downloaded the software and it’s only been available for 11 days. Mobile phone operator 3 is also rumoured to be about to release it’s 3rd generation of dedicated Skypephone handset.
VOIP (Voice over IP) is itself still in it’s infancy, and telco’s around the world are still coming to terms with how it sits with traditional landline and mobile minutes. The EU are currently considering forcing wireless carriers to allow VoIP services such as Skype to run over their cellular networks.
What price Skype may fetch will be interesting to watch, Skype Journal reckons a low ball figure of at least $2 billion. What’s more interesting is the possibility that Zennstrom and Friis could raise about $1 billion and that eBay themselves may stump up another $2 billion in finance to get shot of Skype. The question has to be asked will they then use their latest acquisition, Bill Me Later, to underwrite the deal. That would make it Bill Me Later’s biggest ever deal (by a few billion and change) and be the weirdest business strategy ever.