Link: A VC: eBay and Skype?.
Fred asks why eBay would want to own Skype, because he doesn't see the synergy.
That's because there isn't any.
But that didn't stop eBay from buying PayPal. When eBay bought PayPal, the payments system was already public, with 750 employees. The business is still run pretty seperately, too. At the time, probably 30-40% of eBay transactions were being done by PayPal. Great. Probably about 30-40% of all Nike sneaker wearers wear Champion socks... does that mean it makes sense for Nike to buy the Champion sock business? I'm not saying it would be a bad deal... it might be a better ROI than the company's current sneaker projects, but that doesn't make it true synergy. So, eBay has grown PayPal and its a great earnings stream for them, but I really doubt that having PayPal in house, versus people just using it when it was seperate makes someone that much more likely to transact on eBay.
That being said, while Skype may in fact be a great way for you to ping a buyer on eBay to ask a question, I seriously doubt that Skype is going to make transactions that much easier. Its not true synergy. I doubt most people even want to get on the phone with someone anyway... I think voice makes a transaction harder, not easier. People could start pestering you by calling you about your bike, lamp, car, whatever... Skype rings are intrusive if they're coming from people you don't know.
Russell Shaw thinks its a good idea, calling it a way for buyers and sellers on eBay to talk to each other, or even just to Instant Message. Yeah, or they could... um... just Skype each other or Instant Message. Most e-Bay users already have AIM, but that doesn't mean eBay should try and wrestle the AIM business from AOL. Most eBay users have a browser, too. Should they buy Flock? When does this get silly? When does the market take this as a sign that the core eBay business is dying and the company is looking elsewhere for growth?
Yet, its probably going to be a good purchase for them. I agree with Fred that Skype still has even greater potential as a business, and we may look back at Skype and think that $3 billion was a bargain. Perhaps one day Silver Lake will come along with its $50 billion Fund VII and buy eBay fifteen years from now to break out its undervalued Skype and PayPal assets the way it did with Seagate.