eBay CEO Signals That Skype May Be For Sale

In a sign that the company has suddenly realized that Skype has little to do with anything else eBay does, eBay CEO John Donahue offered the markets a signal that the Internet phone company may be up for sale. In comments made during a conference call with analysts, Mr. Donahue acknowledged there was little synergy between the two companies, and noted that Skype was a "great standalone" business.

When asked by an analyst what his company intended to do to add shareholder value for investors through Skype, Mr. Donahue said, "the synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal. We're going to continue to run and operate the business. It's not a distraction currently. And at such time when we have further announcements on that, we'll let you know."

Mr. Donahue did not come right out and put a price tag on Skype, but his comments have been interpreted far and wide as being a clear signal that eBay would part with its property, which it bought in 2005 for US$2.6 billion, should the right offer come along. What that "right offer" might be, however, is currently the subject of speculation.

For instance, The Times of London reported that MorningStar analyst Larry Witt told investors, "If someone's willing to pay the right price, I don't think [eBay] would have a problem selling it. They will have their own internal projections on how much it's worth, but I think they made it clear it's not a core part of their strategy going forward."

Skype has long supported the Mac OS X platform, and the company often issue new beta releases of its Skype client, though not all Skype features are supported first on the Mac.