Skype taps former Motorola exec for COO post

Scott Durchslag, who led Motorola's strategy and innovation for its mobile device unit, becomes the Internet calling provider's chief operating officer.

Internet calling provider Skype said Tuesday that it has hired Scott Durchslag, a former Motorola executive, to become its chief operating officer.

Durchslag spent more than five years at Motorola where he was most recently corporate vice president of global product and experience invention for the mobile devices business unit. Skype said that while in that position Durchslag "led product strategy, innovation, intellectual property, design, user interfaces, consumer experiences, partnerships, product marketing, and customer care."

The fact that Durchslag was in charge of "strategy" and "innovation" for Motorola's device business at a time when the company lost significant market share to competitors, because it lacked innovative and compelling handsets, isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. Motorola's poor handset performance led to the ouster of former CEO Ed Zander and a planned spinoff of the mobile device unit.

That said, Durchslag had some significant successes at Motorola. He helped strike deals with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Kodak to bring new services to Motorola's mobile devices. And in a previous role at the company, he was in charge of Motorola's South Asia region where he was able to build a business with the highest margins for Motorola, according to the Skype press release.

When he joined Motorola in 2002 as chief strategy officer of the Personal Communications Sector, he helped develop the turnaround strategy that doubled market share and revenue for that part of the business between 2002 and 2007, Skype also said in a statement.

Josh Silverman, who was named Skype's president in March and will be Durchslag's new boss, is confident that his new charge will help Skype innovate and bring new services to market.

"Scott has an outstanding track record and will be able to help us apply best practices in staying ever more customer-focused and nimble, even while becoming larger," he said in a statement.

Skype provides free and low-cost voice, video calling, and instant-messaging services over the Internet. The company was acquired by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion. And even though it is by far the most successful voice over IP services company in terms of users with 309 million registered users worldwide, it hasn't been a financial success for eBay. In fact, last year, eBay took a $900 million so-called impairment write-down against the value of Skype. In essence, the company admitted to shareholders that it has taken a loss on its original investment.

Still, eBay is determined to make something of its investment. Mobile is likely the next frontier for Skype. And Durchslag's experience could help the company come up with a viable strategy. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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