EBay unloading Skype on investors

September 1, 2009

EBay unloading Skype on investors Both companies may be household names and among the Internet elite, however the marriage between eBay and Skype seems to have hit upon irreconcilable differences.

It’s been almost two years since eBay gobbled up the Luxemburg-based Internet phone provider Skype. EBay has struggling to grow its core business and is cashing out of the Voice-over-IP (VoIP) market.

The deal between investment firm Andreesen Horowitz and eBay is expected to be announced soon now that the details have been hammered out. Index Ventures and Silver Lake Partners are also rumored to be involved in the deal according to the NY Times.

Andreesen Horowitz is a new company backed by Netscape founder Marc Andreesen. He currently has a seat on eBay’s board and is also backing a stealth browser startup called RockMelt.

EBay’s price for Skype ended up topping $3.1 billion and is being sold for a rumored $2 billion just two years later. Skype’s business model didn’t fit with eBay’s core e-commerce business model.

The decision to sell Skype to private investors was neither quick nor easy. EBay initially signaled that it would likely take Skype public last year before the equity market dried up.

Since then Skype has been rotting on the vine with no clear path to dominance in the VoIP space. Perhaps its new investors will provide Skype with the freedom and direction to grow again.

There were murmurs that Google might have been eying a Skype purchase as recently as this year, however that deal never came to fruition. Google may have been concerned that buying an Internet phone company would alienate wireless carriers.

There’s no word as of yet whether Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis will continue to lead the company after the deal. While the concept for Skype is on point, the leaders have been unable to make Skype the next big thing.

Maybe it’s time for Andreesen’s return as a technology CEO?

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