Ebay Calls Skype, Ready To Buy

    September 8, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Once the focus of a $3 billion News Corp offer, Skype may be picked up by eBay for a similar amount.

They said no to Rupert Murdoch. They could be ready to say yes to Meg Whitman. Skype, a provider of VoIP software and services, has been in talks with eBay regarding a potential buyout, the Wall Street Journal said.

No one is commenting yet, but sources say a deal worth as much as News Corp’s $3 billion could be on the table. A purchase would add to eBay’s collection of acquisitions and investments in firms like PayPal and Craigslist.

Most important could be a pay-per-call advertising model. Verizon, AOL, and others have found pay-per-call a lucrative avenue in local yellow pages online advertising. Anything that could give eBay’s languid stock a boost would be welcomed by investors.

Skype has been the focus of takeover rumors besides these before. In addition to News Corp, Yahoo and Microsoft reportedly have had discussions with the Luxembourg-based company. Skype has 52 million registered users, and about 27 million actively use their service.

There is a possibility that Skype has been a little too coy with regards to its status as attractive takeover target. Balking at $3 billion deals in the technology market, where other firms could duplicate Skype’s VoIP offerings, may leave it in danger of not getting a deal at all.

Microsoft recently purchased Teleo, and its VoIP technology can be used to call other PC users as well as conventional phones. If Skype lets Microsoft, or Yahoo and its Dialpad product, gain traction in the field, they may find no one wants to return their calls about deals. Not even Meg Whitman.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.