eBay has sold 65 per cent of Skype to a private equity firm for US$1.9 billion (£1.17 billion) after having bought the VoIP company for US$3.1 billion in 2005. Analysts said the sale was a good move as “failed synergies” had followed the original purchase.
The purchase was led by Silver Lake, a technology-focused private equity firm, and also includes investors Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
IHS Global Insight telecoms analyst Aapo Markkanen said: “Both eBay and Skype will have more strategic room to invest in and develop their services.
“In hindsight, it is easy to say that Skype was a massively bad strategic fit for eBay, with its auction users seeing no reason to use calls in their communications.”
The deal should end the “strategic distractions” that have hindered both Skype and eBay, said Markkanen, allowing both to focus on developing new services.
Skype is now expected to see growth opportunities in the business sector, where it could pitch value-added services to clients as take up within this audience would be more successful than within consumers. eBay’s remaining minority stake of 35 per cent will allow it to benefit from any new growth Skype may achieve.
Markannen said the venture had not played out how eBay originally envisaged, as it had planned to integrate Skype into its online auction business to open a new line of communication between buyers and sellers and potentially eliminating fraudulent sales. However, users still preferred emails to calls. The purchase also did not cover the rights for the peer-to-peer technology used by Skype, which remained the property of JoltID, the firm of Skype’s co-founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis.