It's official: eBay has sold Skype to a group of private investors for $1.9 billion, the company announced on Tuesday. That consortium of private investors now owns 65 percent of the Internet-based calling business.
The news comes as no surprise. Late last week, TechCrunch was already hinting at an investor group making a play for Skype, and the New York Times confirmed the speculation earlier today in another report.
According to reports, the investment group purchasing Skype includes Andressen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm led by Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape. The other owners in the group are Silver Lake, a Silicon Valley-based private equity group, Index ventures, a London-based VC firm, and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board
eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005, at which time the auction site actually outbid Google and Yahoo to close the deal. Since then, however, eBay has failed to incorporate Skype technologies into its e-commerce site and quickly realized that acquiring Skype wasn't such a bargain. eBay couldn't find viable way to tie its services with Skype, and later wrote off $900 million of Skype's value. Today's deal puts Skype's overall value at $2.75 billion.
It is unclear why eBay decided to sell Skype this way, especially as the company said earlier this year it was planning to put Skype up for a public offer -- where some say it could have managed to get more for the VoIP company. However, Cnet suggests that Skype couldn't go public until after June 2010, due to the litigation issues the company has with Joltid, the company providing it with the technology to make Skype calls.