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Skype CEO steps down

Niklas Zennström shifts to new projects as parent company eBay also announces $1.43 billion in charges related to Skype.

eBay said Monday that Niklas Zennström, co-founder and chief executive of its Internet telephony unit Skype, has stepped down.

Niklas Zennström Niklas Zennström
The online auction company also forecast third-quarter charges of about $1.43 billion including a 375 million euro (about $530 million) payment to settle all its future obligations under an earn-out agreement signed with some Skype shareholders when eBay bought Skype in 2005.

The company said it would record the payment along with an additional $900 million, related to Skype's valuation, as a third-quarter impairment charge.

The earn-out agreement provided for payments of up to approximately about $1.7 billion based upon specific active user, revenue and gross profit targets for 2008 and the first half of 2009.

Zennström, who helped found Skype in 2003, will become non-executive chairman of the Skype board of directors, according to eBay. The entrepreneur wanted to spend more time on new projects, eBay spokesman Hani Durzy said.

The company said its chief strategy officer, Michael van Swaaij, will act as CEO of Skype until it finds a permanent successor to Zennström. It said that Russell Reynolds Associates is searching for a replacement.

eBay also said Skype President Henry Gomez, who was also a senior vice president at eBay during his two years at Skype, would become eBay's senior vice president for corporate affairs.