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Former Joost CEO ousted as chairman

Mike Volpi has been removed from the board by a shareholder vote and Joost is investigating his actions during his time as chairman and CEO, according to the company.

Anne Dujmovic Senior Editor / News
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Former Joost CEO Mike Volpi has been stripped of his post as chairman and removed from the board by a shareholder vote, the online video service confirmed Saturday. Joost also said it is investigating Volpi's actions during his time as chairman and chief executive.

Joost was co-founded by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, who also co-founded Internet phone company Skype. Volpi left Joost as CEO a few months ago, taking a position in July as a partner at Index Ventures, a global venture capital firm. Index Ventures is part of the consortium that earlier this month signed a deal with eBay to acquire a 65 percent stake in Skype, with eBay retaining 35 percent.

Reports earlier this year cited sources saying that Friis and Zennstrom were attempting to put together a bid of their own to buy back Skype.

Former Joost CEO Mike Volpi has been removed from the company's board. CNET TV

"Mr. Volpi was removed from the board of directors and from his position as chairman of Joost by shareholder vote," a London-based spokesman for Joost said in a statement. "The company and its board of directors is conducting an investigation into Mr. Volpi's actions during his tenure as CEO and as chairman."

CNET News sent an e-mail to Volpi requesting a comment. Volpi told Reuters on Saturday, "I am no longer associated with Joost."

A story in the U.K.'s Times said the investigation is believed to be about intellectual property issues.

Friis and Zennstrom's relationship with eBay concerning Skype hasn't been exactly rosy. In 2006, eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion, but Skype's co-founders retained the rights to some of the service's technology via a company they formed called Joltid. In a licensing dispute, Joltid said it might take back some of the technology. eBay is suing Joltid to keep it from doing so, but the case isn't set to go to trial until June 2010. In July, eBay said it was building new software to run Skype.

So how does all this affect the sale of Skype?

A Wall Street Journal story Friday noted that in eBay's SEC filing regarding the sale of Skype, it "said consummation of the deal was subject to 'no settlement of the pending litigation with Joltid Limited having been effected without the consent of the Buyer (subject to certain limitations).'"

Launched a few years ago, Joost was once a competitor of YouTube and Hulu. In June, however, CNET News reported that Joost was getting rid of its consumer service and instead would put its efforts into building "white label" video platforms for "cable and satellite providers, broadcasters and video aggregators."

Before joining Joost in June 2007 as CEO, Volpi was on the board of Skype and spent 13 years at Cisco Systems.