eBay to spin Skype off into its own company

When eBay purchased Skype in 2005, the company envisioned Skype being used as a way for buyers and sellers to communicate. That usage scenario never materialized, at least in part due to one factoid eBay apparently didn’t know -- buyers and sellers on eBay don’t typically want to talk to each other.

Rumors this week had the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, reportedly reaching out to venture capitalists in an effort to raise money to attempt to purchase Skype from eBay. InformationWeek reports that eBay is planning to spin Skype off into its own company with an IPO set for the first half of 2010.

EBay spent $2.6 billion in 2005 to purchase Skype, but eBay took a $1.4 billion write-down in 2007 relating to the purchase of Skype. An eBay spokesman said no bids have been received for a purchase of Skype and that the company is committed to the IPO and not soliciting bids from potential buyers. However, the spokesperson said that eBay is not closing doors to a purchase offer.

Despite the fact that eBay has repeatedly said that the expected synergies between Skype and the auction service failed to materialize, Skype is doing well on its own. Skype reportedly generated revenue of $551 million in 2008, up 44% from 2007 and boasted margins of 21%.

Registered users of the service are growing significantly with 405 million users by the end of 2008, up 47% from 2007. EBay has said that it expects Skype to have revenues of over $1 billion in 2011, roughly twice 2008 revenues.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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