Motley Fool Discusses The 2012 Annual Report of SkypePal Inc.

The Motley Fool has become a popular and widely respected  investment community site since the origins of the commercial Internet in the mid-90’s with the objective of helping people take control of their financial lives. It has evolved into a multi-media financial services operation; they have free and premium services; suggest portfolios and try to pick recommendations, host discussion forums amongst other activities. “The company’s name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed, amused, and could speak the truth to the king — without getting their head cut off.”

In a post yesterday about “5 Free Internet Winners” they discuss the five biggest winners if free WiFi comes to pass as a result of anticipated rules for forthcoming spectrum auctions in the U.S. Google, Logitech, Amazon, Nintendo and “eBay | SkypePal” are the selections. Why SkypePal?

Forget itself. By the time free access hits the masses, PayPal and perhaps even Skype will be bigger parts of this portfolio of verbs. Heck, even the name eBay may be toast as you crack open the 2012 annual report of SkypePal Incorporated.

Skype and PayPal will be the biggest winners of blanketed coverage. Skype remains the global voice chat leader with 370 million users worldwide. If you don’t think that Skype will replace a few landline telephone accounts once connectivity is pervasive, you may as well Skype me to tell me otherwise.

PayPal is already the leader in micro-payments. It will become an even bigger force in real world transactions under Martin’s scenario of access for all.

Certainly an opinion contary to all those thinking that eBay is about to run out and sell Skype. And it reinforces my long held opinion that the new executive team has one primary goal – to drive up the value of Skype to the point where eBay can not only fully recover its over $3B total acquisition cost of Skype but also provide a reasonable return, whether as an ongoing operation or through an exit involving a sale or IPO. Motley Fool goes further and feels that Skype will become one of the primary value drivers of eBay shares going forward, given that eBay’s online operation is struggling to find new ways to grow.

As for more reliable indicators of Skype’s current growth than Skype’s published number of accounts (not subscribers, not users), check out the peak number of users daily shown in the Skype client, Jean Mercier’s note on the tripling of Skype downloads and Hudson Barton’s “Real” User tracking showing that Skype is has returned to a growth rate comparable to its 2006 rate.

But in the background the new executive team has been working on the restructuring discussed in Skype Journal’s interview with Skype President Josh Silverman. In a recent “Home Improvement” post, Josh gave an update on the the efforts required to “right the ship”:

Excited as we are about bringing new colleagues aboard, there’s more to reorganizing our structure for continued growth. Back in the summer, we set out to be smart about it. And transparent. And fair.

Which is why we held numerous workshops to gain input from the team on how our structure and ways of working need to change. Change that we hope will lead to sustained growth, better products and an even more empowering work life at Skype. One of the things we’re doing is to create smaller “companies” within the company: consumer-, business-, mobility-, and developer-focused business units vaccinated against shackles that curb innovation and risk-taking. Each new business unit is designed to emulate the feel of a start-up and to cultivate a deeper sense of ownership.

This is just a low-resolution snapshot from what’s a continual journey of change. There’s much more to it, of course. Replotting our roles, responsibilities and accountability takes time. While we think that we’ve done most things right, some won’t come through as intended. Tweaking them for a few months should make life at Skype work well for everybody.

And he concludes with:

Our structural rethink isn’t about change for change’s sake. From day one, everything at Skype has boiled down to delighting the customer. With a bit of home improvement to support further growth and innovation, we’re just making sure it stays that way.

At least Motley Fool and the Skype executive team are in sync with respect to the primary goal at Skype. The next few months and the subtle indications of forthcoming new product and service announcements will tell if the foundation is being built to achieve these goals. From restructuring will now come the challenge of execution.

Tags: Motley Fool, eBay, Skype, PayPal, Josh Silverman

About Jim Courtney

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

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