EBay Inc plans to sell a 65 percent stake in its online phone unit Skype for $1.9 billion to private investors including Silver Lake and a venture firm run by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen.
Shares in eBay rose 40 cents or 1.8 percent to $22.54 on Nasdaq after the news.
The deal values Skype at $2.75 billion, according to the Internet auction house, which had bought the phone company in 2005 for about $3.1 billion.
The group buying Skype also includes London-based Index Ventures and the Canada Pension Plan, in addition to Silver Lake and Andreessen’s firm Andreessen Horowitz.
The deal lets eBay focus on its PayPal electronic payments service as well as its flagship auction service, the company said.
EBay originally planned to spin off Skype next year. John Donahoe, eBay’s chief executive, said in May that a $2 billion valuation would be low for the growing Internet telephone business.
In 2007, eBay wrote down about $1.4 billion of its investment in Skype, conceding it did not fit in with the rest of its online auction business.
“Skype is a strong standalone business, but it does not have synergies with our e-commerce and online payments business,” Donahoe said in a statement.
EBay expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.
Internet auction and services company EBay Inc has reached a deal to sell its online telephony unit Skype to a group of private investors, the New York Times said, citing two people briefed on its plans.
Andreessen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm headed by the Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, is likely to be among the investors in the group, the paper cited the people as saying. London-based Index Ventures and Silver Lake Partners may also be involved in the deal, one of the people told the paper. The paper added that the value of the deal, which is likely to be announced later on Tuesday, had not been disclosed. EBay spokesman Alan Marks declined to comment on the report.
In May, EBay Chief Executive John Donahoe said a valuation of $2 billion would be low for Skype.
Since eBay bought Skype, the company did not announce major developments nor any innovative new products or services. May it is because of the structure of the size the institution “eBay” has become. Skype was not the leader of digital innovation since years. Thus it has always kept their loyal customers and delivered very good quality of service.
From my point of view there are three key opportunities in the VoiP market for Skype:
1. Reach: Skype is the biggest Online Social Network, twice as big as facebook, but they do not use the full potential of the SNS (Social Networking Software), yet. There are many opportunities to develop new applications, open APIs or useful functions to use Skype as a Social Network.
2. Global telecommunication: Since the start of Google Voice a huge discussion is going on about the future of telecommunication. The network operators such as AT&T or Deutsche Telekom and mobile network operators are getting under pressure because customers can change and manage several telephone number very easily. I think now it’s time for such a service and to roll-out a mainstream VoiP Service like Google Voice – this could be easily realized by Skype as well. Don’t you think?
3. Speed & Innovation: Since the company would be kind of “independable” again. The speed of innovation and business development would be increased rapidly. The goal of the investors might be to really strengthen the company. May be they are also looking to get the global VoiP leadership and then partner or even sell the company again to a major player. Thus this speed and acceleration of innovation might be something very healthy for Skype and I am already thinking about what they could develop for us loyal users.
Blog by Monty C. M. Metzger *monty.de.