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Netscape Communications Technology

EBay Sells Skype To Marc Andreessen 125

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the must-be-nice-to-have-that-bankroll dept.
Julefrokost writes "Computerworld has a story about eBay selling Skype. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, along with a group of investors, are reported to have paid $2 billion for Skype. According to the New York Times, Google was also a potential buyer. Also, the original founders of Skype are said to have placed a bid, but Marc Andreessen & Co was the highest bidder."
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EBay Sells Skype To Marc Andreessen

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  • by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:12AM (#29272743) Journal

    I hope the new owners make it better and re-incorporate the functionality it had before.

    I really miss Skypecasts, it was a really useful tool for practicing languages and having informal meetings (moderation, talk turns, etc)...

    Just today I spent about an hour looking for a skypecast alternative where I could practice my German with others (maybe first only hearing and talking a bit later).

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Teamspeak / ventrilo / mumble? :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by woodrad (1091201)
      You might want to try joining a site like Livemocha. Usually people will want to talk to you on Skype. Another good way to improve your German would be to join dict.cc and send messages to German native speakers on there who are likely wanting to improve their English. Hope that helps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgfsd (1238866)

      I have found online sex chats/video with foreign women as a good alternative for learning new languages.

  • by Demoriel (1478317) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:13AM (#29272755) Homepage
    Is Skype really worth half the value of Marvel? Disney got an amazing deal...
  • Apparently the original creators of Skype aren't really that smart if they don't know how to use proxy bidding. Too bad.
  • by gr8_phk (621180)
    Cool. Now they'll surely want to "monetize" it, which should drive users to Ekiga instead :-)
    Is there a Windows port?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sebt3 (923707)

      Is there a Windows port?

      Sure, http://wiki.ekiga.org/index.php/Windows_Users [ekiga.org]

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Which is cool. If you've got Mac, Windows, and Linux versions of a decent SIP solution (Ekiga's become one and there's a few good alternatives if you don't like that...) then all you'd need is a sip service that has PSTN dial-out/in support. There's a few, but the truth of the matter is that all of them have issues and it's entertaining trying to find SIP hardware like you can Skype stuff in the stores.

    • So I checked out Ekiga and what's amusing is that it shows that a recent version was 3.2.1, which sounds like a really mature product. But from the release notes, it says it's the first stable version of Ekiga with release notes showing tons of crash/leak fixes and since then lots of crash fixes. Having gone through 3.2.3 to 3.2.5, they're now on to 3.20? And I thought Microsoft took liberties with version numbers!

      Really, this thing should still be 0.x with a beta tag on it.

      • 3.2.1 is stable version of 3.x series with loads of bug fixes. They had a whole 2.x series before which worked very well. 3.x is some kind of rewrite which separates core functionality and UI.

        That 3.20 seems to be some typo. I am sure they meant 3.2.0.
  • Surprised (Score:5, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:14AM (#29272771)
    Considering the continuing legal troubles [eweek.com], I'm surprised they found a buyer. That's why Google purportedly backed out of negotiations to buy them some time back.
    • by xtracto (837672)

      The fact that the "underlying P2P" technology was not property of Skype made me wonder about the possibility of the technology owners enabling eavesdropping mechanisms behind closed doors... while everybody concentrates on whether Skype is good or evil... the background company in charge of moving all the p2p bytes goes unnoticed.

      • The fact that the "underlying P2P" technology was not property of Skype made me wonder about the possibility of the technology owners enabling eavesdropping mechanisms behind closed doors..

        Sometimes it takes a very long time for the penny to drop. Ah, I'm getting old.

        Could it possibly be that a *much* larger organisation than the Hollywood studios is actually behind the drive to quash P2P technology universally?

        Follow the money, they say. Now... it's not a question of who would benefit most, but who would lose the most if P2P was allowed to roam free?

        Next question - Who is shaping down P2P network traffic without telling us? The ISP's? And they're owned by...

        The Telcos. Yep, all of them.

  • Buy now!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Oskuro (26466)

    I wonder if there was a "Skype" item on sale in eBay...

    Google must have hit a "speed bump". :)

    • Re:Buy now!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:40AM (#29273031)
      I think Google (and myself) are better off with Google Voice. I never liked skype and if you look at prices for making calls to landlines and cellphones in Europe they're more expensive than the alternative. With Google voice I can call Europe for 2 cents a minute from any U.S. phone, without having to log onto my computer.
      • Re:Buy now!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:58AM (#29273223) Homepage Journal

        With Google voice I can call Europe for 2 cents a minute from any U.S. phone, without having to log onto my computer.

        With Google Voice, you need a land line, or to burn up cell minutes. That's a major liability. I use GV every day, but it's no substitute for internet telephony. (There are numerous SIP providers out there, though.)

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          burn up cell minutes.

          Wrong. I have a G1 on T-Mobile and just put my GV number into my favorite 5. All outbound calls I make with Google Voice are included in my plan 24 hours a day, all month long so I just cranked my plan minutes down to the minimum and it's great.

        • by whoop (194)

          Give the Magicjack device a try then, $20/year. I dropped my cell phone recently (barely got use and waiting for more Android phones to come out), and picked up a Magicjack to use with my existing Google Voice account. MJ doesn't support very many area codes (only major cities it seems), but GVoice does, so I have a local phone number for others to call me.

          The only breakups in voice calls I've had were while downloading a big file, saturating my line. Traffic shaping should fix that, once I get around to

        • by adolf (21054)

          Naw. Google Voice works just fine with Gizmo5 over SIP. It looks pretty easy to set up, and by all appearances is totally free.

          • Lame. The point of SIP is open connectivity and/or choice of providers. Why should I beholden to one provider to access GV? That and if you decide to go whole-hog with SIP, you can gain all the functionality of GV without... using Google.

            • by adolf (21054)

              No lamer than Skype.

              Remember your context cues, kid.

              • Nice try "kid", but the point still stands. Not to mention that it's not totally free with SIP + Gizmo5 + GV either.

      • Re:Buy now!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bberens (965711) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:01AM (#29273257)
        I realize they provide only related (but similar) service, but Vonage is now like $30/mo (after taxes) and you can call anywhere in the world for free. I have friends in India who are dropping their local land lines in exchange for an American Vonage account so they can make cheap calls within their own neighborhood. That's pretty wild :) The telecomm revolution is underway kids. Next up, cable.
        • I just check the Vonage web site. You can't call anywhere in the world for free. Maybe you mean other Vonage customers.
          But, why would you pay $20 to $70 per month for a limited number of minutes rather than using a SIP phone (hard or soft) and doing the same for free; maybe using some SIP gateway service for call-in and call-out?
          • by bberens (965711)
            Okay, so it's 60 countries for the $24.99/mo plan, not technically anywhere in the world.

            Here's the list:

            Andorra Argentina Australia Austria Bahamas* Bahrain Belgium Brazil Brunei* Bulgaria Canada* Chile China* Colombia Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Guadeloupe Guam* Hong Kong* Hungary Iceland India* Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan Kenya Latvia Luxembourg Macedonia, Republic of Macau* Malaysia* Malta Mexico Monaco Netherlands Ne

      • Re:Buy now!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @11:44AM (#29274205)

        They aren't the same thing at all. With Google Voice, you still need some kind of phone service to make calls. In fact, one cost effective way to use Google Voice is to combine it with Skype.

        It would be nice if Google provided an internet phone service as part of Google Voice. I'm currently looking into using Google Voice in combination with Gizmo5 [gizmovoice.com], which looks very promising. Whether Skype or Gizmo5 is a less expensive pairing for Google Voice depends on your usage patterns - Gizmo5 is cheaper up front, but Skype offers unlimited domestic calling for a set price.

        If anyone has experience with this, please share your advice. I have been annoyed by Skype's billing policies and customer service lately, which is what is making me want to switch.

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          Google Voice + Magic Jack (http://www.magicjack.com/1/index.asp)?

        • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
          yeah so? I do have some kind of phone service, it's called a cell phone, every single person I know has one. I can use Google voice to call from my cell phone or any other phone in the U.S. to other countries for as little as 2 cents/minute. I don't care for Skype's monthly plan. Googe voice also provides me with a phone number and area code of my choice (I picked one nearly identical to my cell number), voicemail, call filtering, etc. I like to call from a phone not from a computer. I can make a call whene
          • That's true, if you have accepted a $40-$60 per month cell phone bill as a given, then there's no reason to mess with internet phone service. I use internet phone service to save money, combined with a pay-as-you-go cell phone for those times I need a portable phone. My combined phone expense is about $10 per month.

            This wouldn't work for everyone, I know. To me, it's worth it to save a few hundred dollars per year. Google Voice is going to make this much easier, since I won't have to give out two phone numb

      • Which is useless to those living outside the US
      • by sg_oneill (159032)

        I really hope they do open up the protocol. Lets face it , skype is the defacto standard amongst *users* of VOIP, yet people cant use common platforms like asterisk to leaverage stuff like PABX arangements and the like out of it without some *very* hackish solutions. I like SIP and as a SIP developer I sorta have to, but SIPs got a lot of problems, particularly with NAT and Firewalls that prevent it becoming as successful as Skype amongst comodity voip users, outside the ISP supplied voip solutions.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Probably the same which took down GMail!
  • Yet another free service gets snapped up for billions, in the hopes that it will somehow generate more than the expended value in ad revenue. Either that or some other magical source of cash influx that will not be spent by its users who are used to getting it free and will jump ship if subscription models become mandatory.

    It seems a lot of people still believe that when the internet is involved, tried and true business rules and plain old common sense do not apply. Is the black magic of the interwebs not d

    • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:39AM (#29273021) Homepage

      This would be an interesting insight if weren't for the fact it's already been sold before.

    • by Alphager (957739) <florianhaas.fsfe@org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:43AM (#29273061) Homepage Journal

      Yet another free service gets snapped up for billions, in the hopes that it will somehow generate more than the expended value in ad revenue. Either that or some other magical source of cash influx that will not be spent by its users who are used to getting it free and will jump ship if subscription models become mandatory.

      It seems a lot of people still believe that when the internet is involved, tried and true business rules and plain old common sense do not apply. Is the black magic of the interwebs not dead yet?

      Last i checked, Skype was ad-free and financed itself through charging for connections to "real" phones and for national phone numbers.
      You have no clue what you are writing about.

    • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:49AM (#29273115) Homepage

      I pay for SkypeIN and SkypeOut. It's a great deal. Unlimited Skype to Skype and 10,000 minutes per month to and from land lines. I have a real local phone number which displays on peoples caller ID if I so desire. Prices vary by locality, so check. It's about the same yearly as many people pay monthly for their cellular plan.

      I have incoming calls redirect to my cellphone and office phone after so many seconds. You can load Skype up on your Windows Mobile, iPhone, and iPod touch with the Apple microphone headphones. While this is in no way a cell phone replacement, it's free minutes if you are near a good WIFI and need to place an outgoing call. There are physical wireless Skype Phones, but the quality is not near the level of a cell phone yet.

      You can run Skype on many PC's at the same time and answer on which ever one you are sitting at. I have an ASUS EEE BOX PC at home wall mounted as an IPCCTV server, also running Skype. It's also running on my Laptop at work at the moment. My wife and I often video chat through Skype instead of using our phones. The audio is better quality than what my cellular provider offers.

      Hopefully more people will see the benefits of the paid services and Skype will continue.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Another major benefit is that there are Skype clients for Linux. I have Skype installed "just in case" on both my netbooks. If I can find wifi and have a credit card on me, I can get a phone. Seems like a wacky corner case, but it's not a lot of disk space. But more importantly, it's a bridge between the nerd world, and everyone else :)

        • I never really had any issues with skype (in part because I never used it) until I tried in on Linux. And gee it sucks. 100% CPU when on calls. Hasn't been updated for years (stuck on version 2, without updating to newer audio systems). As a result I'm in the process of moving the organisation I've joined (which uses skype as it's primary conferencing tool) to a more open, linux friendly solution. If it _just worked_ I could look over the proprietary/closed nature of it, but it doesn't, so I'll move away. A

          • I've never used Skype on anything BUT Linux, and the OSS version has _just worked_ for me without fail (on several different machines) since I followed a friend's suggestion that I use a USB headset.

      • by dwater (72834)

        On S60 too.

        Also, Skype is good for those stupid American companies that think they are being nice by providing 1800 numbers and don't realise that it's impossible/difficult/awkward to dial them from anywhere outside the US (or something like that). You can dial them using Skype...quality is mamahuhu, but it does work.

        • Also, Skype is good for those stupid American companies that think they are being nice by providing 1800 numbers and don't realise that it's impossible/difficult/awkward to dial them from anywhere outside the US (or something like that).

          From where is it impossible/difficult/awkward to dial 1800 numbers? I just pick up my mobile and dial. I get a little recorded announcement telling me that the call is not free and I will be billed the normal rate to the USA (about US$0.05/minute) and then it connects. Once

          • by dwater (72834)

            China. What makes you think other countries don't use '1800' for other things?

            Max.

            • China. What makes you think other countries don't use '1800' for other things?

              I have to wonder whether you're being deliberately obtuse. You dial + (or 00) before it, of course, as it's an international call.

              • by dwater (72834)

                Excuse your inaccuracy by accusing someone of being obtuse? Hrm.

                Such as you suggest didn't work when I last tried it - admintedly a while ago. It was a Bank Of America number I was trying and they recommended I try to call through an AT&T number/operator, but when I tried that, it also wouldn't work.

                • Excuse your inaccuracy by accusing someone of being obtuse? Hrm.

                  Inaccuracy? Huh? If I'd said it was possible to call 4420 numbers in London from other countries would you call that inaccurate too? That's the number. It starts with 1800. Your local dialing plan may require additional prefixes but they aren't part of the number.

                  Such as you suggest didn't work when I last tried it - admintedly a while ago. It was a Bank Of America number I was trying and they recommended I try to call through an AT&T numbe

                  • by dwater (72834)

                    > That's the number.

                    No, it's not.

                    > Why not try it now?

                    I'm not in China at the moment. I managed to do my business - closing the account due to them insisting on me having to call them - using Skype.

                    • 18005551212. What is the number, if not 18005551212?
                    • by dwater (72834)

                      It's not a complete telephone number.

                      My desk phone number is '254'....not much use from outside my company.

                      Your 1800 number isn't much use from outside your country, unless you specify the country.

                      That's what I mean by 'inaccurate'.

                      And I am pretty sure that the US 1800 numbers don't work from China. I would be surprised if they work from anywhere - though I've not tried them from anywhere apart from China. Having said that, perhaps it works from Finland, though I think that time I was using VoiP, so I put i

                    • It's not a complete telephone number.

                      It is a complete telephone number. It starts with country code and finishes with the local component.

                      The dialing prefix you may have to use from a specific place is not part of the number, it's part of the process that you use to dial that number when you are in that specific place.

                      It's like if you claimed that "double-click on the outlook icon and click 'new message'" was part of your email address.

                      Your 1800 number isn't much use from outside your country, unless you s

                    • by dwater (72834)

                      You're wrong. The initial '1' is not the country code, else you would be able to dial '800' from within the US.

                      In fact, you have to drop the initial '1' from US numbers when dialing from outside the US. The fact that you then have to add it again is just coincidental - it's a coincidence that the country code is the same as the first one.

                      Sorry, but I'm not interested in talking about this any more.

                    • You're wrong. The initial '1' is not the country code, else you would be able to dial '800' from within the US.

                      What sort of sense does that make? The "1" at the beginning of "1800" behaves identically to the "1" at the beginning of "1415" or "1202". It is required and is not required in exactly the same contexts.

                      In fact, you have to drop the initial '1' from US numbers when dialing from outside the US. The fact that you then have to add it again is just coincidental - it's a coincidence that the country cod

      • by alexo (9335)

        You can run Skype on many PC's at the same time and answer on which ever one you are sitting at.

        Good thing in principle, does not work so well in my case.

        When I run Skype on 2 machines (e.g., at home and at work), it does not recognize when I am "away" and shows my status as "online" 24/7. It is enormous fun to get calls at 4am from relatives halfway across the globe because they see you as "at the keyboard". The Skype forum has been friendly but ultimately useless in addressing the problem.

  • Just like when eBay purchased Skype they brought in a slew of new price increases and a per-call connection charge in an attempt to win back how ever many billion they paid for it?

    I stopped using skype years ago because the quality was never great, not compared to my Cisco 7960G anyway. For a while I was even considering buying dedicated Skype hardware but now I'm very glad I didn't
    • by Locklin (1074657) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:22AM (#29273431) Homepage

      I did the same thing, purchasing a Linksys SPA-2200 and connecting it to a Canadian SIP provider (Acanac). That's after purchasing a crappy Skype USB phone. The difference is astounding and it's a dirt cheap, full replacement for a landline. I even use ekiga on a netbook when I wan't a "portable" phone line. And if Acanac ever raised their price, I can easily switch to a different provider and use the same box.

      • Preach, brother. A Linksys ATA plus a good-quality DECT cordless phone kicks Skype's ass eight ways to Sunday. Cheaper calls, better phone, full programmability, vendor independence, and ten thousand times better audio quality.
  • Buy it now? (Score:4, Funny)

    by AcgiGlyph (668545) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:45AM (#29273085)
    Poor google, I guess they didn't notice that there was a buy it now option.
  • by dutt (738848) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:45AM (#29273091) Homepage
    The interesting thing about this deal is that eBay actually bought Skype from the founders for 3.1 billion US dollars. They are now selling for 2 billion which makes you think about the huge loss and the extremely bad deal they made in buying in the first place. When eBay bought Skype it was seen by many as the worst IT business deal, ever!
  • by BESTouff (531293) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:52AM (#29273157)
    As Skype's money seem to be made only on pc-to-phone calls, I hope they'll open their protocol to other clients and just act as a sort of SIP-to-phone platform. If users can connect from other clients, that could be a win.
    • by metamatic (202216) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:19AM (#29273409) Homepage Journal

      We already have an open VoIP protocol. Just switch to a provider like Gizmo and use whatever VoIP client you like--Ekiga, Twinkle, Gizmo's own client, whatever.

      What Skype needs to do is die. The world doesn't need a closed proprietary phone network.

      • by corbettw (214229)
        Well, you can call others on other phone networks with SkypeOut, and they can call you with SkypeIn, so it's unfair to say they're a closed network.
        • by metamatic (202216)

          You can point a video camera at an LCD screen to record a Blu-ray movie, but that doesn't make it open.

          Skype is closed because only they know their protocol and can make clients for it.

      • What Skype needs to do is die. The world doesn't need a closed proprietary phone network.

        I'd rather they adopt and/or improve SIP. Their client is hands-down the best available for talking to a laptop and having it sound good on both ends with good volumes and no echo. They seem to have the best algorithms guys.

    • What? Skype supports SIP. Okay they slap a beta tag on it, and document the setup is more technical than your average Skype install. Oh, and you need to be running your own SIP server. But there's no walled garden that I can see.

      http://www.skype.com/business/form/sip-beta/ [skype.com]

  • "There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch." - Marc Andreessen

    Could his big idea be a browser with Skype and Google Wave components built in?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Considering how small Andreessen Horowitz fund is compared to the $2 billion price tag, it's incredibly misleading to say Skype is sold to Marc Andreessen. He gets a tiny slice of it, the big private equity firms is where Skype was sold to. And they'll be looking to sell it further.
  • I didn't RTFA, but this must surely be a record bid for an auction on Ebay.

    • by CyberKnet (184349)

      Sure, but can you imagine the eBay listing fee, commission, and worse - the paypal fees?

      Just imagine having 2 billion dollars frozen in your paypal account when the buyer files a dispute.

      Sheeeeeeeesh.

  • ...is if Skype was put up on an eBay auction :)

  • The "final value fees" must have been enormous. I hope Andreessen didn't pay using Paypal.
  • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:35PM (#29274989)
    For those who had all but given up on Skype in Linux, they just released a new Linux client beta version in the last few days or so. Finally there are changes afoot...
  • if they had actually sold it on E-Bay.

    I don't trust a company that won't use their own product.

  • Did ebay list Skype in an auction? I mean, why wasn't I allowed to bid? Do these deals occur in smoky back rooms across a table filled with brandy glasses and cigar ashes? How does a company like ebay let someone like Andreessen know they have something up for sale? Does Satan have a billion dollar deal brokerage in hell that only the most elite rich get invited to? Somebody, *who knows*, please educate me on this! I took some business courses in school, but I must have been asleep the day deals like

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