It was back in 2005 that eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) bought Skype, a fast-growing online communications company. At the time, a variety of analysts were puzzled about the synergies. Isn't the magic of eBay that it is highly automated? Why slow things down by adding voice communications?
There has not been much evidence of synergy since then either, and that's probably a good thing. eBay has allowed Skype to grow at a rapid pace, which is nothing to argue with. Hey, there are about 171 million registered users.
Now we are seeing a bit of a change. Today, Skype announced version 3.1 of its Windows software. What is notable about the release is a cool feature, SkypeFind.
Basically, SkypeFind allows for the listings/ratings of local businesses. So far, there are 4,500 businesses on the network. For example, you can use it to find a restaurant – which, of course, has recommendations from the Skype community.
Version 3.1 has something else too: Skype Prime. Basically, it's a platform to allow people to sell their advice. I'm thinking this could be very useful for attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors and so on.
All of this is pretty early, but it's innovative and it shows that eBay is being very mindful about encouraging the thriving Skype community.
Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including the Complete M&A Handbook and the EDGAR-Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements.