The purchase of Skype by Microsoft for £5.2 billion last week certainly raised some eyebrows in the technology world and beyond. Now the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates has put his weight behind the move and urged others to do the same.
Speaking to the BBC Hardtalk programme first broadcast this morning, Gates said he was one of the main supporters of the move: “I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done." Gates went on to say that the move will be good for Skype and for Microsoft adding that he is looking forward to seeing what innovations the researchers at Redmond will come up with. "The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today. Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue," said Gates. "It'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that."
Stephen Sackur, the Hardtalk interviewer brought up the fact that Skype has made a loss on an annual basis but Gates defended the purchase by saying that the operating business was “a fairly good business.” Sackur went on to ask the Microsoft chairman about a report in the Financial Times which said the move smacked of “corporate desperation” by Microsoft which is facing “internet irrelevance.” Gates smiles and shakes his head before replying: “It’s a great purchase that a lot of innovation will come out of.” While many have speculated on why Microsoft paid £5.2 billion for Skype, we will only really know what its plans for the platform are over the coming months and years.
Gates is clearly backing Ballmer here and by giving his support to the controversial move so publicly will mean that other board members will likely have to toe the party line and support the Microsoft Skype deal.