Should Skype Get Sold to its Founders?

The talk of the weekend in the world of IP communications is whether Skype would be better off in the hands of original founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. You see, the New York Times is reporting the pair is interested in acquiring the VoIP software company from eBay who says there are few synergies between Skype and its current business model.

What Skype would gain from such a deal would be the addition of the legendary leader Niklas Zennstrom as spokesman. There is value in having him keynoting as the company’s head. In the past, Zennstrom wowed crowds at ITEXPO more than once.

As I read the New York Times story I just couldn’t help but wonder how one of the world’s largest ecommerce companies does not see synergy with the world’s largest internet telephony software company. For example, the fact that I don’t see ads for eBay auctions as I wait for calls to connect is mindboggling.

In my last conversation with Zennstrom he mentioned to me there could be some powerful synergies between Skype and Joost, his internet television service. An acquisition could allow him to have a ubiquitous client which could be used to gain leverage on numerous content providers. You see Joost is not achieving the mainstream traffic it needs and its alexa rank is in the 4,100 range which I estimate to mean 2-3 million unique visitors on a monthly basis. Quantcast says Joost gets 491,000 monthly US visitors while a competitor Hulu gets 13,600,000 US visitors per month.

Although it is difficult to understand how eBay doesn’t see synergies, Skype itself doesn’t need to go anywhere. It is doing fine under eBay IMHO and it is rolling out new features and functions at a nice clip and gaining new users by the million. If anything, eBay needs Skype to ensure it has multiple sources of revenue and for this reason, it would be a mistake to sell Skype too cheaply.

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