eBay Buying Skype? I'm Scratching My HeadRob Hof
Another day, another report about the Internet voice startup Skype maybe getting bought for billions of dollars. But eBay? It sure seems a stretch to me, as it does to other folks, like Om Malik and McGraw-Hill's own Scott Kessler of S&P. With eBay's business humming again, it's not as if it's desperate to get into an entirely new business, as some of the coverage suggests. eBay has been on a buying spree, but always pretty directly related to e-commerce.
Sure, there are some interesting possibilities to use Internet voice calls to connect buyers and sellers on eBay's marketplace more directly. But eBay doesn't need to spend $3 billion to do that. Otherwise, it's tough for me to see a strategic fit--certainly not anything like its last really big bet, the online payment service PayPal.
Of course, this business has endless surprises. So surprise me: Got a better idea why eBay would buy Skype?
UPDATE 2: John Battelle thinks it makes sense simply as a way for eBay to get new customers. Say what? It's hard to imagine any customer of Skype hasn't tried eBay yet--at least in the U.S. and probably in many places abroad as well--so what new customers is eBay going to get via Skype that it hasn't already? Then there's the math. Divide $3 billion by Skype's 52 million users (ALL of them, which would seem a big stretch for eBay to capture), and you get about $58 a customer. Doesn't sound like an eBay bargain to me. But I'm all ears....
UPDATE: Some interesting conjecture in the Comments, below. Also, a lot of smart people are opining on VC Fred Wilson's blog. Check out billg's, especially. No time right now to expound upon them, except this: Yes, Skype clearly could bring some interesting new capabilities to eBay that I hadn't thought of. But for $3 billion or anything close to it? There have got to be much cheaper ways for eBay to get to the same place, and quickly too.