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Concerns about the readiness of its CEO and a shaky market have Skype, the iconic Internet voice-chat service, saying it won’t hold its much-awaited initial public offering until the second half of the year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal today. Skype’s IPO has been hotly anticipated since before it filed to sell $100 million shares to the public last August.

A Skype spokesperson did not respond to requests for additional comment.

The Journal quoted unnamed sources as saying that the company’s executive shakeup, including the naming of former Cisco exec Tony Bates (pictured) as CEO in October. In December, Skype suffered an embarrassing outage affecting tens of millions of users, raising questions about the stability of its service.

Other worries about the health of the IPO market and a sluggish economy could have it sitting on its IPO until at least July, said the report.

“Tony needs to get his feet underneath him and understand the business and the voice of the company,” the Journal quoted a source as saying. “The intention is to go when Tony is ready and when the macroeconomic climate allows the company to go.”

Still, signs that 2011 may be “The Year of the IPO” may not be overly hyped just yet. Currently, 44 companies are registered to go public, up from 25 at this time last year, according to a study released by Dow Jones VentureSource during the first week of January, with more likely to come. Shares of Demand Media, a publisher of inexpensively produced online content, soared today following its IPO.

Major tech companies expected to jump into the IPO fray this year include work-focused social network LinkedIn and group-buying site Groupon.

In any case, when Skype does go, it will likely go big, analyts believe: With a name that’s familiar to most Internet users, Skype could see the biggest IPO since Google went public in 2004. Skype said it had 560 million registered users as of June 30, 2010, up 41 percent since mid-2009. But only 8.1 million of those users pay for the service — a statistic that could give long-term investors pause.

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