Online auction giant eBay announced it will spin off its Skype unit. The VoIP service will receive an IPO in the first half of 2010, which could raise $500 million to $1 billion for eBay.
eBay acquired Skype in October 2005 because it hoped the service would dramatically improve communication between buyers and sellers around the world, but this idea never gained a lot of traction.
Skype handles 8 percent of all cross-border voice traffic, making it the world’s largest provider of international calls, according to research firm TeleGeography. Meg Whitman, Donahoe’s predecessor, bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005 with the aim of giving buyers and sellers a way to speak to each other. Even though that goal was never realized, Skype’s sales reached $551 million last year.
“The only problem with Skype is it’s part of EBay,” said Jeff Lindsay, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York. “It’s a marriage made in hell. They will make more money from spinning it out than they ever could by keeping it.”