Some stories of Meg Whitman´s resignation from eBay seem to say that the $900 million charge that eBay took for overpaying for Skype is what did Meg in and forced her to resign. I disagree. Before going on I would like to disclose that I have met Meg Whitman, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis as investors in Fon, the company I am CEO. Having said this and regardless of how thankful I am that that Meg, Niklas and Janus trusted us at Fon with their investments I think that the press is being to harsh on all three and that both eBay and Skype are fantastic companies/service.
As far as my view of Meg Whitman´s tenure at eBay I find that it so resembles that of Erika Brown at Forbes that I just link the story for you. Here´s the key quote from the story:
She became chief executive of eBay in March 1998. Six months later, she took it public at an initial market valuation of $700 million–that was at the early stages of the Internet bubble. Today, the company is worth $40 billion, which means eBay shareholders have been the happy recipients of a 5,600% return.
And as far as Skype is concerned I believe that not only Skype is the best chat/speech/videoconferencing platform in the world but I also believe that in the next 5 years there will be many new ways of monetize it that have not been discovered as of now. Now there is one aspect that I do agree with the critics and that is that eBay has not done a good job integrating the Skype acquisition into the eBay platform. Skype is not a natural for eBay as PayPal is for example but Skype for example is above all a business communication platform. At Fon, and many companies for that matter we use Skype to communicate internally but we would not use MSN for example. Skype has a fun yet professional look. Skype was made partly for play but a lot for work. How could Skype be of more use to eBay? Well first of all Skype could simply say that is provided by eBay. Reminding 10s of millions of Skype users on a daily basis about eBay´s existence would be a good start. On top of that Skype provides a wonderful visual platform that can be very well adapted for sales. One of the poorest element in eBay I find is that products lose charm, all look the same. I think that it is time for eBay to get a visual revamp and Skype can be a big part of it.
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