EBay to Buy Skype?

by Tim Gray

If the report holds true, it could be easier for eBay users to communicate with each other.

Internet auction giant eBay is reportedly in talks to acquire Internet telephony company Skype for $2 billion to $3 billion, according to a published report.

However, spokesmen from both companies declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report, saying their respective companies do not comment on "rumors." The report cited as its source "people with knowledge" of the talks between the both sides.

The New York Post today reported that eBay had offered $5 billion for Skype.

"Skype is focused on building a successful company for the long term," Daniel Twigg, a Skype spokesman, said in an e-mail response when asked about the report.

The Luxembourg-based Skype, whose software provides free Internet-based telephony service to computers using its technology, is believed to have held talks with several potential buyers in recent months, including News Corp.

The telecom also hired investment bank Morgan Stanley earlier this year to advise it on strategic options.

According to the Journal, people familiar with the talks said eBay is interested in adding services to make it easier to buy and sell goods online, much like its acquisition of electronic-payment processing service PayPal in 2002.

EBay is also interested in entering new businesses in an attempt to generate new avenues of revenue, such as pay-per-call Internet telephony, the newspaper report said.

EBay's user base of 157 million could be a perfect fit for Skype's telephony software, allowing users to talk to other users at no extra cost.

In other Skype news today, the company launched its Voice Services Program, designed to enable providers to join a new marketplace for free and/or fee-based voice services.

Content providers can now join more than 400 Skype developers worldwide already offering hardware and software products to the telecom's 53 million members, the company said.

"Skype has driven a revolution in personal communications by popularizing free Internet phone calls. We are committed to opening the endless possibilities for voice by creating a marketplace for our thriving ecosystem of partners and developers to make it easy for their innovative services to be available to our millions of callers worldwide," Niklas Zennstrvm, CEO and co-founder of Skype, said in a statement.

The new program will include numerous new services for registered Users, such as live traffic reports, horoscopes, language learning tools, or delivery-tracking systems.

This article was originally published on Thursday Sep 8th 2005