Skype CEO says focus on mobile, corporate push

By : |October 14, 2009 0

TALLINN, ESTONIA: Internet telephony firm Skype, a unit of eBay, will focus on growing its mobile and corporate business next year while further developing its key offerings to consumers, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

An upcoming change in ownership will boost the focus on growth, CEO Josh Silverman said in an interview with Reuters.

Last month a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in Skype. Closure of the deal is pending.

"I’m very excited about the new ownership. They are very focused on growth," Silverman said at the company’s core R&D centre in Estonia.

The group buying Skype includes London-based Index Ventures and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), along with Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz.

More than 15 million users sign on every day to Skype for Web-based chats, phone conversations or video phone calls. Skype has registered nearly 500 million users worldwide since it was founded in 2002.

Key features – like calling to other Skype users – are free, but the company charges for calls to traditional phone numbers and other additional features.

Revenues were $551 million last year, and the company aims to hit $1 billion within two years.

Silverman said the recession has not hurt the firm’s business, which has been profitable for more than two years.

"In tough economic times there is flight to value. And we are value," he said. "We are seeing a huge pull from enterprises, from large and small."

Silverman said one third of users already use Skype wholly or partly for business, but the company is focusing increasingly at offering tailored products for companies, which are in demand.

Last week Skype Technologies agreed a $600 million five-year loan, but sources told Reuters Loan Pricing Corp the price had been flexed up due to investor scepticism, including that the deal does not offer too much in terms of a recovery given that it is secured by assets that comprise software.

"I am very pleased with the result. I think it’s a testament to strength of our business model," said Silverman.

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