Skype, after holding off on plans to launch an initial public offering IPO and amidst rumors of possible acquisition by Cisco, Google, and Facebook, is being acquired by Microsoft for an unsolicited offer of 8.5 billion in cash.
Many analysts feel it’s a bit more than the company is worth and see it as a desperation attempt on Microsoft’s part to gain a foothold in Internet consumer markets. In particular, it hasn’t been much of a competitor in the mobile operating system market where Apple, Blackberry, and Google’s Android have pretty much got it covered. GigaOm’s Om Malik notes that it would give them a “big boost in the hotly contested enterprise collaboration market thanks to Skype’s voice, video and sharing capabilities.”
CRN’s Chad Bernston also reports that Microsoft intends for Skype “to support Microsoft devices like XBox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a number of Windows devices…[they] also plan to connect it with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities.”
Despite Skype’s overwhelming popularity (it claims 170 million connected users, who held 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010), it has been losing money, and the majority of it’s users use it for free.
At the end of the day, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft integrates Skype with its wide-ranging products and whether its bet on Skype will pay off.
(My Layman’s Take: Skype is losing money. Microsoft is losing money. The thing is everybody LOVES Skype, and more importantly, it’s everywhere that Microsoft isn’t–namely smartphones, iPads, and my grandmother’s computer. The question is whether this marriage between graying Microsoft and a vibrant, young Skype will result in economic bliss, epic tragedy, or even a good old American divorce.)