eBay’s new CEO John Donahoe is trying to usher in an era of “bold changes,” and, thankfully, one of them may be selling Skype. In an interview with Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Donahoe suggested that he would give Skype a year to prove its synergies. We think Donahoe should get on the horn to Goldman Sachs this afternoon, but at least its refreshing to hear eBay’s management finally admit that retailers don’t need to own phone companies.
In an email, Lashinsky summarized Donahoe’s position: “He is dead-set, for now, against selling or spinning Paypal. Rajiv Dutta moving over to replace Donahoe is further evidence that is not in the works. Alternatively, Donahoe implicitly gave Skype a year to show synergies with eBay.”
eBay’s Skype acquisition never made sense. The division has distracted eBay from its core business–e-commerce–and Skype, too, has suffered. (As any communications company would if owned by, say, Wal-Mart).
Skype is profitable and nearing a run rate of $500 million in revenue. eBay could probably get at least 5X-8X revenue for it–$2.5 billion to $4 billion–perhaps from Microsoft, Google, or a forward thinking phone company. Yahoo would be the best fit, but Yahoo is now worth so little that it can’t afford to buy it.
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