NYT : eBay reaches deal to sell Skype

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Internet auction website eBay is reportedly have reached a deal that would see Skype being sold to a group of private investors, months after announcing its intention of spinning off the online telephony and VoIP service, according to the New York Times, citing two people who were briefed on the plans.

It is expected that the announcement would be held on Wednesday, or Tuesday in America.

Though eBay has not commented on the matter yet, it is said to include the new venture capital firm headed by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz. Other named partners include London-based Index Ventures, an early investor in Skype, and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. The price was not disclosed, but it is expected the price to be around US$2 billion.

eBay bought Skype in 2005, outbidding rivals Yahoo and Google. However, it is also seen to be one of the worst transactions in the tech sector in the decade because Skype did not really fit in with eBay’s already existing services, and it later wrote down the asset by $900 million. The price, however, topped at US$3.1 billion as it also included payouts to the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis – who would start up Joost, a online video service that has failed to catch on.

It was also reported that Google was looked as a potential suitor, but Google walked away from the deal, fearing litigation that would leave it vulnerable to damages and that it might also alienate wireless carriers since they offer Google Android and its Google Voice service.