15 de abril de 2009

"Skype Will Go Back to the Stock Market"

Having failed in its attempt to sell Skype, eBay is now poised to carve off the business via an initial public offering. That could be a gamble.

Market conditions allowing, the online-auction titan will float Skype next year, eBay chief executive John Donohoe said late on Tuesday. This suggests that eBay's apparent sale talks with Skype's Scandinavian founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, and three private equity groups, have broken down. The bidders had reportedly been offering eBay around $2.0 billion for the business, $600.0 million less than what the founders had sold it to eBay for in 2005.

Donohoe's announcement could be a veiled attempt to find another bidder for the Skype; eBay has, of course, denied this. Trouble is the Internet telephony service is a tough sale. Skype might be a a popular communication tool, accounting for around 8.0% of the world's international calling according to Telegeography, but translating "eyeballs" into "revenue" has proved challenging.

Skype's customers only spend an average 11.3 cents a month on its service, compared with the typical spend of around $50 a month for a cellphone. Analysts have also doubted eBay's goal to double Skype's $551.0 million in revenue last year, to $1.0 billion. Taking Skype to the next level would require considerable capital investment, says Atlantic Equities analyst James Caldwell, and that could deter a buyer.

As if the cloudy revenue model weren't enough, Joltid, a firm which owns the intellectual property rights to the peer-to-peer technology that Skype uses, has been attempting to end its licensing deal with the firm. (Joltid is owned by none other than Zennstrom and Friis.) EBay has fought back in a London court, but the prospect of appeals and counter-appeals on an issue so core to Skype's success could be enough to put off investors already hesitant to open their purse strings.

With eBay struggling to find buyers in the technology and private equity spheres, the obvious question is whether ordinary investors will be convinced to buy shares. There are are plenty of tech IPO horror stories to put them off: back in 2000, 3Com's floatation of the hand-held computer maker Palm was so oversubscribed it sent the price soaring--and the stock has lost 98.0% of its value since.

0 comentarios:

Ideas Libérrimas - 2008 -