Skype’s management just announced that the rumors are all true: Ebay is selling Skype, and the paradigm-breaking VoIP company is back in private hands. What’ll this mean to the millions of Skype users? Not much.
Skype’s president Josh Silverman broke the news on the Skype blog in a post titled “A new chapter.” “We’re spinning off from eBay to become an independent company once again. This is very exciting news for all of us here at Skype, and I want to give all of you a brief overview of what’s happening,” is what he wrote. The actual sale is to a group of private investors which includes Silver Lake Partners, Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz Ventures, and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board–some of whom, specifically some members of Index, were on the early Skype Board.
The deal is to sell just 65% of the company, with eBay retaining the last 35%. It values Skype at a massive $2.754 billion and means Skype is back “to being a fully independent company again,” bringing to a close the Ebay management era, which has been strange right from the start. That’s because Ebay realized very quickly that Skype didn’t really chime with the rest of its online auction/payment system–and the deal never included the clever peer-to-peer technology that actually makes Skype tick. As late as April of this year, there was even talk that Ebay was considering IPOing Skype in 2010.
As a Skype user, this news should have almost zero impact on you right now–under Ebay’s management Skype’s continued to develop and make both improvements to its services, and more money from its operation. And under the new management it’ll continue to do so. In the long term the new owners may allow Skype a little more latitude to develop in more promising and challenging directions than Ebay may have done. Ebay clearly thinks Skype really can go in new directions, and make more money–hence it’s retaining that 35% stake. Ebay’s president and CEO John Donahoe pretty much says as much in his statement in the Press Release “We’ve acted decisively on a deal that delivers a high valuation, gives us significant cash up-front and lets us retain a meaningful minority stake with talented partners.” That up-front cash should come in handy too–it’s a cool $1.9 billion.