eBay sets Skype loose at $2.75 billion valuation

The auction site has sold off its telephony unit, finally, after plans to take it public and a legal dispute with the company's founders.


Auction site eBay has, as long anticipated , sold off the Skype telephony service to a group of investors that includes Marc Andreessen's new Andreessen Horowitz group, Silver Lake, and the Skype co-founders' Joltid Ltd. The investor group now holds about 70 percent of the company; eBay retains the rest in a minority stake. Joltid was brought into the investor group as part of the settlement of a copyright suit that the Skype co-founders, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, filed against eBay over Skype's technology . At one point, that dispute was looking so ugly that eBay was reportedly considering rebuilding Skype's technology altogether .

The sale amounted to approximately $1.9 billion in cash and a note from the buyer in the principal amount of $125 million, for a total of $2.025 billion.

eBay's plans to get rid of Skype, a purchase that had never fit quite well into its auction business, had been well-publicized. Last spring, the company formally announced that it planned to spin off Skype as a publicly traded company in the first half of 2010.

The final $2.75 billion valuation is only slightly higher than the $2.6 billion that eBay originally acquired Skype for in 2005.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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