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It's Official: eBay To Buy Skype For $2.6BN in Cash and Stock

Plus Up To $1.5N More Based on Performance

"By combining the two leading ecommerce franchises, eBay and PayPal, with the leader in Internet voice communications, Skype, we will create an extraordinarily powerful environment for business on the net," said eBay's president and CEO Meg Whitman as it was confirmed yesterday that eBay has agreed to buy Internet telephone company Skype Technologies SA, founded by Niklas Zennström (pictured) and Janus Friis.

It was announced in London that the price for Skype is to be approximately $2.6BN in up-front cash and eBay stock, plus potential performance-based consideration.

"The acquisition will strengthen eBay’s global marketplace and payments platform, while opening several new lines of business and creating significant new monetization opportunities for the company," said eBay in official statement.

Skype, founded in 2002 by  Zennström and Friis (a Swede and a Dane), the founders of KaZaA, offers high-quality voice communications to anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world. The Skype software is easy to download and install, and enables free calls between Skype users online. Skype’s premium services provide lowcost connectivity to traditional fixed and mobile telephones. Skype’s software also offers a robust set of features, including voicemail, instant messaging, call forwarding and conference calling. Upcoming product innovations include Skype video, expressive content such as avatars, and customized toolbars for Outlook and Internet Explorer.

"The deal also represents a major opportunity for Skype to advance its leadership in Internet voice communications and offer people worldwide new ways to communicate in a global online era," the eBay statement continued. "Skype, eBay and PayPal will create an unparalleled ecommerce and communications engine for buyers and sellers around the world."

“Communications is at the heart of ecommerce and community,” said Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer of eBay. “By combining the two leading ecommerce franchises, eBay and PayPal, with the leader in Internet voice communications, we will create an extraordinarily powerful environment for business on the Net.”

One of the fastest growing companies on the Internet, Skype already has 54 million members in 225 countries and territories. Skype is currently adding approximately 150,000 users a day and has created a thriving ecosystem of products, services, developers, and affiliates. Skype is considered the market leader in virtually all countries in which it does business. In North America alone, Skype has more users and serves more voice minutes than any other Internet voice communications provider.

“Our vision for Skype has always been to build the world’s largest communications business and revolutionize the ease with which people can communicate through the Internet,” said Niklas Zennström, Skype CEO and co-founder. “We can’t think of any better platform to fulfill this vision to become the voice of the Internet than with eBay and PayPal.”

“We’re great admirers of how eBay and PayPal have simplified global ecommerce and payments,” said Janus Friis, Skype co-founder and senior vice president, strategy. “Together we feel we can really change the way that people communicate, shop and do business online.”

Zennström and Friis will remain in their current positions. Zennström will report to eBay CEO Whitman and join eBay’s senior executive team.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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