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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.