Skype and eBay

I feel I ought to have an unique opinion about this; but I don’t.

All I have are some very scattered random thoughts about it. I’m sad that what’s fundamentally a European company has been swallowed by a Valley company and I wonder how that will play out. I’m curious how a two sided network effect business will absorb an peer to peer network business. I tend to think that this says more about eBay’s fear of Google than anything else; particularly in the payment’s area. This is ought to be about the displacement of the current financial and transaction systems; the displacement of the current telecom industry is a side show. This is all climate change stuff. I don’t think they overpaid; but what do I know about that? Nothing. But at least it keeps me from making a joke about winner’s curse.

It will be very interesting to see how quickly they can merge the developer networks of the two companies. The eBay developer network is very robust; while skype’s seems very young. Skype did capture, a few months ago, a very senior Microsoft director who presumably knows a lot about developer networks; Scoble’s old boss. That Scoble reports to the Director, Platform Evangelism at Microsoft says a lot about the nature of his job. Comments about markets as conversations will be avoided.

I’m slightly curious if they know that the peer to peer architecture in Skype is dominate over the server based one in both eBay and Paypal. It’s fascinating to spin ideas about what a rich peer to peer transaction framework might look like. If you think of skype a foot hold into the IM space; and in turn a foot hold into the dash board of your trading partner relationships. It’s full of fun techno-geeky-ui scenarios. I mean how different is presence from package tracking any hows? All that falls into the Dave Winer memorial “dig we must” bucket. So it’s more about shovels in the ground than it’s ideas in the air.

Puck some numbers at random; maybe Skype currently has 5 Million users and maybe eBay paid 3 Billion; so $600/user. For what it’s worth Microsoft’s $400 Million for 9 million Hotmail users comes to $44/user. I assume Microsoft knew exactly how many of their users were using Hotmail; I wonder if eBay knew that for Skype.

Noting that you don’t buy things at an eBay auction maybe from now on we can refer to the act of answering a phone call as “winning.”

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