Facebook, Google vying for Skype?

A few days ago Reuters reported that Facebook and Google are fighting to either buyout Skype or form some sort of joint venture with the ubiquitous VOIP company. In August 2010 Skype filed the papers to go public, but has since postponed the IPO until the second half of this year.

It seems that the longer Skype waits to IPO, the more momentum diminishes. Would FaceSkype or Google Skype even make sense?

To me it looks a bit far fetched. Neither of these Internet giants need Skype. Facebook and Google are the two largest Web companies on Earth, and both companies already offer voice (even video) capabilities. Facebook’s focus has always been turning itself into a platform, and has been fairly successful at that. Several third-party VOIP and videoconference apps currently exist on Facebook, and Facebook is just fine by that. How would developers of these VOIP/videoconference apps react if Skype is baked into Facebook? Facebook just wants people to come on the site for everything. It wants to be the Interweb, the place where those voice and video bits pass through. And all that personal data…

Google’s all about its search and online advertising. It has acquired a few communications-related companies in the past, notably GrandCentral and Gizmo, to in turn offer Google Voice to the masses. Furthermore, Google’s latest bedfellow is actually a traditional cell phone company, Sprint, in a deal to offer GV number portability to Sprint subscribers. But ultimately, Google is looking to flood the market with its free services to keep competitors at bay while increasing advertising channels and being able to reach out to greater numbers. While Skype is rushing to appear on smartphones everywhere, Google is aiming for deals with cell phone providers so that even “dumb phone” owners can enjoy Google Voice, just like an Android owner.

Nobody really agrees on Skype’s valuation. EBay bought it for $2.6 billion (but later had written it down for $1.7 billion), then sold off for a valuation of $2.75 billion. Analysts offer valuations between $750 million to $1 billion in the low end, and some speculate as high as $3 billion. Maybe this leak is a ploy to drum up some more excitement about Skype?


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