The Grounds For Divorce

Much like celebrity couples, the obvious question for any Facebook-Skype union is "Who wears the pants?"

With Facebook's market value currently estimated at $33bn and Skype's at $7-7.5bn it would seem the former, but Facebook remains a business in search of a revenue scheme making talk of a takeover ridiculous and had it significant funds surely it could have simply bought out a smaller, innovative company like Fring or Nimbuzz and remained in complete control. Furthermore Facebook's goals arguably mean it needs Skype more than Skype needs Facebook. The VoIP giant is famed for its prolific number of partnerships and only this week inked a major deal with Avaya to integrate its calling into the company's office phones. Furthermore, should the wide-ranging deal go through, it would surely make Skype the perfect takeover target for Apple, Microsoft or Google (who do have the funds) in order to pull the rug from under Facebook's fast moving feet. After all Skype has been bought before by eBay, even though it was never likely to be a good fit.

In a nutshell this represents the biggest problem affecting Facebook. It wants to expand and take advantage of its incredible membership momentum, to diversify into premium services which tie-down users before they hop aboard the 'next big thing' and it has ideas coming out of its ears to achieve this with everything from productivity software and gaming to mobile phones and geo-location. BUT of these only Places is its own creation - and a blatant copy of Foursquare at that. By contrast its productivity software relies on Microsoft Web Apps, gaming relies on third parties which are happy to take their success elsewhere and its hope of becoming a mobile platform require the likes of Skype at its very heart. It is the old Catch-22 scenario of the .com nightmare all over again.

Ultimately none of these arguments are meant to attack any Facebook-Skype deal, merely give it a sense of proportion. The social networking site has become arguably the fastest growing company in the tech sector, but for now it remains a six year old start-up full of idealistic notions and desperately in need of capital. So until its coffers start to swell deals with prolific partnership floozies like Skype are not so much the building blocks for something beautiful, but well intentioned flingsā€¦

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