Web & communication software

eBay Punts Skype for $1.9 Billion, Keeps 35%

Congratulations to eBay for managing to rid itself of eBay without taking another pounding. People are talking about a "$2.75 billion valuation," but that is funny money. And to get even the $1.9 billion the private investors will pay, eBay had to kick in a $125 million "loan" to lube the deal.

Still, this is a good day for eBay, which turned a toxic asset into something that could potentially make real money. And, since eBay retains 35 percent, it still stands to profit if the new owners can do something with the VOIP service. Did you know Skype is the world's largest carrier of international telephone calls? Well, it is.

The sale makes eBay's purchase of Skype a barely mitigated disaster. The supposed eBay/Skype synergy--which most observers never understood--never materialized and seemed to shove eBay CEO Meg Whitman out the door. She is now running for Governor in California.

eBay paid an estimated $3.1 billion for Skype in 2005, making the deal one of the bigger disasters among techology mergers. Of late, eBay had simultaneously been talking about a Skype IPO next year and shopping it to potential buyers. Google reportedly took a pass on a Skype deal.

The new owners are an investor group led by Silver Lake and includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board.

There still appears to be potential litigation with Skype's founders over use of a protocol--which they retain ownership to--that drives the service. At one time, this seemed to cloud chances for a deal or an IPO, but the dark clouds seem to have parted, at least in the eyes of the private investors who will soon own Skype.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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