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eBay Sells Majority Skype Share for $1.9bn

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Speculation has been building of a Skype sale and now here it is...

Owner eBay has sold a 65 per cent controlling stake in the VoIP monolith to an investor group led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. The VC firms Andreesen Horowitz, Index Ventures and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are among its members in a deal valued at $1.9bn.

eBay retains a 35 per cent stake in Skype, but had admitted the two companies were never really a good fit. Original creators Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (who also made the rather less successful Joost streaming TV service) were in the running to buy back their baby at one point, but I suspect eBay would have to swallow a bitter pill given the original transaction ultimately netted the duo $3.1bn.
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"Skype is an innovative, next-generation company that has changed how people and businesses communicate with each other," said Silver Lake MD Egon Durban. "This transaction benefits all parties involved and will allow Skype the opportunity to accelerate the growth of its business by harnessing the deep technological and company development expertise that resides within the investor group."

Silver Lake could be onto a winner here. VoIP has certainly gained great public awareness in recent years, but its overall impact has been stifled by mobile networks up to now. The tide cannot be held back forever though and with VoIP apps now prolific on most smartphones and 3 standing out from the crowd to offer free Skype use a further breakthrough is inevitable. In fact I'd go so far as to say VoIP will eventually replace traditional voice calls given its largely non-geographic nature, and at that point just watch those Skype share values skyrocket...

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