eBay will acquire Skype for approximately $2.6 billion in up-front cash and eBay stock. The acquisition, expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2005, will strengthen eBay's global marketplace and payments platform, while opening several new lines of business and creating significant new monetization opportunities for the company.
The deal represents a major opportunity for Skype to advance its leadership in Internet voice communications and offer people worldwide new ways to communicate in a global online era. Skype, eBay, and PayPal will create a unified ecommerce and communications engine for buyers and sellers around the world.
Skype offers high-quality voice communications to anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world. The Skype software is easy to download and install, and enables free calls between Skype users online. Skype's premium services provide connectivity to traditional fixed and mobile telephones. Skype's software also offers a robust set of features, including voicemail, instant messaging, call forwarding and conference calling. Upcoming product innovations include Skype video, avatars, and customized toolbars.
One of the fastest growing companies on the Internet, Skype already has 54 million members in 225 countries and territories. Skype is currently adding approximately 150,000 users a day and has created a thriving ecosystem of products, services, developers, and affiliates. Skype is considered the market leader in virtually all countries in which it does business. In North America alone, Skype has more users and serves more voice minutes than any other Internet voice communications provider.
Online shopping depends on a number of factors to function well. Communications, like payments and shipping, is a critical part of this process. Skype will streamline and improve communications between buyers and sellers as it is integrated into the eBay marketplace. Buyers will gain an easy way to talk to sellers quickly and get the information they need to buy, and sellers can more easily build relationships with customers and close sales. As a result, Skype can increase the velocity of trade on eBay, especially in categories that require more involved communications such as used cars, business and industrial equipment, and high-end collectibles.
The acquisition also enables eBay and Skype to pursue entirely new lines of business. In addition to eBay's current transaction-based fees, ecommerce communications could be monetized on a pay-per-call basis through Skype. Pay-per-call communications opens up new categories of ecommerce, especially for those sectors that depend on a lead-generation model such as personal and business services, travel, new cars, and real estate.
Skype can help expand the eBay and PayPal global footprint by providing buyers and sellers in emerging ecommerce markets with a more personal way to communicate online. Consumers in markets where eBay currently has a limited presence can learn about eBay and PayPal through Skype.
With its rapidly expanding network of users, the Skype business complements the eBay and PayPal platforms. Each business is self-reinforcing, organically bringing greater returns with each new user or transaction. The three services can also reinforce and accelerate the growth of one another, thereby increasing the value of the combined businesses. Working together, they can create an unparalleled engine for ecommerce and communications around the world.