With the latest incarnation of the “dotcom boom” in full swing, and all the wads of cash that come with it, did anyone not foresee the occasional over-valuation amongst the myriad investments and MBO’s? Unlikely. Yet the admission this week from eBay that they paid well over the odds for Skype in their 2005 purchase was slightly less predictable. After all, is eBay itself not one of the great dotcom success stories of our time? The layman would expect a level of due diligence not seen in the market before or since.
For the record, the online auction company values Skype at around $900m less than it paid for it and set aside $530m to meet future pay-outs to some shareholders; the upshot of which is a current worth of $1.43bn compared to the purchase price of $2.6bn. According to eBay, Skype only generated $90m in revenue for the 3 months to June 2007.
Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis recently resigned as executives in order to pursue other projects, including the online video firm Joost, which became available to the general public on Monday. Zennstrom will become a non-executive chairman in the new Skype regime, but is widely expected to spend more time on new innovations.