This is the first in a series of posts resulting from in interview last Friday with Josh Silverman, Skype’s recently appointed President. In this post we provide an overview of the range of topics discussed and some background to the interview.
On Friday Phil and I participated in a one hour wide ranging interview with Skype’s new President, Josh Silverman. Having listened to both Skype’s team and the market over the past few months, Josh is starting to take the high level measures required to grow Skype from a technology “marvel” into a full-fledged conversation infrastructure business that is “just there” when you want to converse … anywhere, anytime. Having personally participated in a corporate restructuring over a decade ago, suffice it to say that, while technology has been rapidly changing in the interim, the basic requirements for growing a business from a “wonder” into a sustainable, world class enterprise have not changed. After all, you’re dealing with human interactions and we’re all still emotional beings who need motivation (internally as employees) and a “wow” level of excitement externally (as users). Some background facts that have led to the issues that Skype must address and the action plan Josh has determined to be necessary:
- Skype, in its first five years, has grown to its over $500MM annual run rate faster than either eBay or PayPal
- Skype has about 500 employees worldwide with over 150 joining in the past year
- Skype delivers about 6% by minutes of the world’s international calling traffic
Recall, that during Josh’s interview with Om Malik, he outlined three key growth initiatives:
- product innovation: making Skype easier to use and more reliable; the video opportunity
- paid services and their marketing:
- Skype as a platform: embedding Skype as the conversation infrastructure for devices and services.
In many ways our discussion expanded on those themes. Because of the range of topics we covered and given short posts make for easier and more readily absorbed reading than one long post, we’ll cover the interview content in several posts over the coming week. But our topics will include:
- Restructuring and reorganizing with new focuses while delegating responsibility
- Skype’s platform strategy and the infrastructure required to execute
- Skype’s approach to the business market
- Geographical markets
- Generating broader awareness through marketing
- Tech support
Since Om had already asked the questions about Skype on iPhone and the eBay relationship, we left those out of our interview in the interest of using our time with Josh to learn more about Skype’s internal evolution and the direction in which Josh sees driving Skype as a publisher of conversation infrastructure software and services.
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