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eBay's power sell: Skype to Google?

Rumors spread that the auction giant is reconsidering its ill-fated purchase of the telephony service and may sell it to Google--or at least work out Googly partnerships.

This post was updated at 9:45am EDT with comment from Google.

Will eBay sell Skype to Google?

It's no secret that many in Silicon Valley regard eBay's 2005 acquisition of the telephony service as a $2.6 billion misstep. But new rumors, reported late Tuesday night on TechCrunch, suggest that eBay may be negotiating Skype-related partnerships with Google or even selling it outright.

"We do not comment on market rumor or speculation regarding acquisitions," a Google representative told CNET in an e-mail. "Generally speaking we are constantly in discussions about potential partnerships in cases that will be mutually beneficial for users, advertisers, and publishers." Representatives from Skype were not immediately available for comment.

There was very little detail to the rumors, except that Google's "core team" for voice operations is reported to be suspiciously absent from this week's CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas. So at this point, it seems to be Valley gossip at its finest.

But a Google-owned Skype would make a whole lot of sense. Google already operates a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service through its Google Talk messaging client and purchased communication management start-up GrandCentral last year. With its open-source initiatives like Android for mobile phones (especially considering Skype's vocal desire to make a splash in the mobile market) and OpenSocial for social networks, Google would be in a much more ideal position than eBay to turn Skype into a "hackable," developer-friendly product.

Henry Blodget of the Silicon Alley Insider figured that Skype could sell for as much as $5 billion to $6 billion.

And while Skype may have seemed like a sweet buy for eBay back in 2005, a $900 million write-down and a CEO resignation later, eBay is in a tight spot, and the Skype purchase has likely grown a little sour.