Ebay’s attempt to offload Skype to a group of investors just got even more complicated.
Joost and Joltid, the companies owned by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Mike Volpi and Index Ventures, two of the players in the group seeking to buy Skype. If granted in full, the injunction would essentially ban Mr Volpi and Index from participating in the deal for the time being.
The motion is the latest move in a legal onslaught from Mr Zennstrom and Mr Friis that began even before the current deal for Skype was announced, and seems designed either to get them control of Skype or, more likely, make sure they get a piece of the action after a sale. Read more
HP today came up with a videoconferencing product that could work out 1,000 times cheaper than the telepresence mega-productions itself and Cisco have been pushing.
Cisco’s TelePresence or HP’s Halo can cost more than $300,000 for a boardroom suite setup, but HP’s SkyRoom could link two boardrooms for less than $300. Read more
What would you pay for a fast-growing private internet company with hundreds of millions of active users and revenues of more than $500m?
If the name on the door is Facebook the answer, apparently, is: $6.5bn. That’s the valuation implied by the recent offer to Facebook employees from Digital Sky Technologies (the Russian investment firm also bought a chunk of preferred stock from Facebook that the company claimed valued it at $10bn, but that sounded like hype given that the benefits attached to those shares were not disclosed.)
So the $3.1bn $2.75bn valuation that has just been slapped on Skype sounds respectable – and is certainly more reasonable than the laughably low offers of $2bn or so that eBay was being encouraged to entertain earlier this year (curiously, eBay will not explain the difference between the $3.1bn value implied by its deal and the headline figure of $2.75bn that it claims for Skype). Read more
Skype’s future just got cloudier. In a regulatory filing this week, Ebay, which in 2005 acquired Skype for a final price of $3.1bn, said it might shut down the internet telephony service if it can’t resolve a legal dispute with Skype’s founders or develop an alternative technology.
The technology used to power Skype is still owned by the company’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. Their new company, Joltid, licenses the technology back to Ebay.
But Joltid has accused Ebay of violating the terms of that agreement by using parts of the code it did not license, and has threatened to withdraw the technology. Ebay has asked a British court to intervene, and the case is pending.
In this week’s filing, Ebay said that while it expects to prevail in court, it was working to develop an alternative to the Joltid technology. Read more
My BlackBerry suddenly became a Google phone today, a transformation that surprised me, but may be a cause for concern for the telecoms industry.
Google announced the Google Voice mobile app for BlackBerry and Android phones this morning. It’s a small download that can make a big difference to the phone interface. Read more
At eBay’s analyst day last month, chief executive John Donahoe said he wasn’t going to force synergies between unrelated properties in eBay’s bulging portfolio of companies.
Most observers figured he was just talking about Skype, the VoIP service which Mr Donahoe has taken to calling a “great standalone business.” But if Mr Donahoe isnt quite ready yet to sell Skype, it turns out there are other eBay companies he is willing to part with. Read more
Google has been speaking in different tongues with its voice strategy, but there are signs that its ambitions in telephony are coming into focus.
Last night, it unveiled Google Voice - a rebranding of GrandCentral, bought in July 2007. The company usually takes a long time reworking its acquisitions, some of them never reappearing at all, so the nearly two years it has spent on GrandCentral seems par for the course. Read more