As with so many of the stories we write for the print paper, there’s a lot that doesn’t get in because of space constraints. Here are some tidbits that escaped our Skype-eBay story today.
– “There are smiles and there are smiles. Today’s are really large.” That’s Rob Stavis, general partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, one of Skype’s initial investors. They’ll get a nice pay day for having the foresight to invest in Skype’s A-round.
– Many of the reports characterized Skype as “unprofitable,’ perhaps because eBay’s CFO said that Skype would not be profitable until late 2006. But a couple of Skype investors we talked to said they believed Skype was already profitable (relatively low costs and revenue of ~$60 million this year). Perhaps eBay is planning to take them back into the red with a heavy marketing campaign or something.
– There was apparently competition for Skype up to the last minute, we were told yesterday. In other words, eBay appears to have won a bidding war, or at the least made itself more attractive than other suitors.
– Speaking of suitors, when they first started approaching the Skype guys in earnest this year, the duo assumed that companies wanted to talk about partnerships. When the founders realized that the companies wanted to acquire Skype, they brought in Morgan Stanley for advice and help.
– There was some speculation that eBay is now getting into the consumer phone market. It’s more like the Internet communications business, eBay CEO Meg Whitman told us. EBay is not going to compete against the likes of Vonage. “It’s entirely different. Skype is not a landline replacement,” she says.
– Maribel Lopez, a voice analyst with Forrester Research, agrees. EBay’s competition isn’t with Vonage. It’s worse than that. It’s with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, companies that are aggressively bundling voice, IM and e-mail. “There are at least four discrete voice markets, and I think they’ll be in the next generation voice community market,’ she said. “Skype is one of the leaders in this market, but it’s a lead that will be highly contested.”
– And lastly, the Street.com is arguing today that the “expansion of Skype to eBay users could prompt a PC headset upgrade cycle. Companies that could benefit include Websense and Logitech, among others.”