The Metamorphosis Begins: New CEO Sought for Skype

At this point I am going to provide simply links to other stories; my commentary will follow later.

Top Executive Changes at Skype: Niklas resigns as CEO (remaining Chair of the Board) and Skype President Henry Gomez have resigned their positions effective immediately. During the search for a new CEO, Michael van Swaaij, eBay’s Chief Strategy Officer will serve as interim CEO.

Of interest would be to know what is behind the additional “impairment charge” mentioned here:

eBay expects that the 375 million payment (approximately $530 million), together with an additional amount of 630 million (approximately $900 million), will be taken as an impairment charge to be recorded as part of its Q3 financial results.

This statement particularly piques my interest as I was personally responsible for helping to establish an impairment charge in a NASDAQ company restructuring 13 years ago. (In that case it mostly involved getting an assessment of inventory in the distribution channel and estimating how much would come back for replacement of stale product but we also had marketing development fund liabilities and other “gotchas”.) You can throw everything but the kitchen sink into such a charge to cover a lot of sins. But we’ll probably never know in this case.

eBay has also negotiated a release from the earn-out agreement signed with certain Skype shareholders when eBay acquired Skype in 2005. Skype Co-Founder Jaanus Friis, in his post (not) just another Monday, provides a nostalgic retrospective on the past four years while ruminating on his ambitions for Joost:

Skype has been an incredible adventure and I am proud to have been part of it. Looking back at 2003, at two guys running around with a crazy idea of building a global phone company purely on the Internet, moving from one rented apartment to another, still battling a major lawsuit from our Kazaa days, 2003 seems a long time ago. It is amazing to think that it is only four years!

Andy Abramson at VoIP Watch, who has recently been voicing his criticism of top Skype management, has his usual insightful commentary:

This tells me a few things. First that the eBay leadership is not happy with the direction Skype has been going and is looking for a leader who can really run the company globally as a telco 2.0 oriented business.


Third, this likely means something is up with Joost and Nikki Z didn’t need to stick around to be a straw boss. For Gomez, who is not a tech guy, this puts him back where he was most effective at eBay and where he can do only more great things to keep the company’s reputation on the high side.

Andrew Hansen has also expressed his viewpoints.

Tags: Skype, Niklas Zennstrom, Jaanus Friis, eBay, Andy Abramson, VoIP Watch, Andrew Hansen

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About Jim Courtney

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

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