Shel and Rick visit Skype – Interview with COO Sten Tamkivi

Naked Conversations co-author (with Robert Scoble) Shel Israel and American-converted-to-Canadian VC and blogger Rick Segal (and our former Microsoft evangelist when I was at Quarterdeck) are currently traveling through Europe. With an objective of learning about Europeans who have been bitten by the technology development bug, as well as about the integration of technology into European societies,. Shel is planning to write another book, Global Neighborhoods, while Rick may be seeking out new ventures that would complement current ones funded by J.L.Albright Venture Partners.

Yesterday they met with Sten Tamkivi, Skype’s 28-year-old COO learning about Skype’s strategy, vision and operations.

The core of that strategy, according to Sten, is Skype ’s intention to increasingly derive revenue from non-telephony services such as text, SMS and video.

“Very few VOIP services do not compare themselves to Skype.” That means they are positioned to follow not lead. Skype is more focused on staying ahead by focusing on its own opportunities,” he told us..

Consistent with what we heard at the Voice 2.0 Conference in Ottawa last week, Sten states,

“the biggest threat to Skype today is not being able to develop non-telephony streams of revenue. There is excitement in eating our own revenue streams,”

Other highlights:

  • There is a focus is on migrating its telephone services to handheld devices.
  • Over the past year, since the eBay acquisition, Skype has doubled its Tallinn-based team to 270, mostly technical, employees.
  • The technical talent pool in Estonia, a country of 1.4 million, is getting tapped out; there are some unique challenges in recruiting from outside, especially given its geographical location and history.

Read Shel’s full post to learn about the advantages of operating in a small country and the end of paying for calls by-the-minute. And follow Shel’s travels through his Naked Conversations blog to learn more about how technology is impacting education and European cultures.

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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