By the time you’re reading this, Microsoft is expected to announce buying Skype Limited, a Luxembourg-based company for a grand total of $8.5 billion, acquiring all of Skype’s debt in the process. The bidding process lasted for the past couple of months (three quarters), with Google, Facebook and Microsoft all reaching the final round.
Microsoft knew that the company cannot afford to lose yet another bid to Google or Facebook and decided to go all in and include not just a hefty sum of cash to Skype owners (Andreessen Horowitz, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Silver Lake Partners and eBay jointly own 86% of Skype), but also to buy out all the debt Skype incurred over the years.
The debt isn’t as big part of the sum as it seems – at present, Skype owes 686 million dollars, with eBay profiting the most – the company bought Skype for $3 billion in 2005, sold it for 1.9 billion and now stands to receive additional 2.4 billion: buy for 3, sell for 4.3 billion.
Biggest winner of this transaction is not Microsoft, but Nokia. When Stephen Elop announced moving away from Symbian and adopting Windows Phone 7 and future Windows operating systems, it was called the death of Nokia. With Nokia’s IP strengths and the simple unbeatable finishing quality of their products, integrating Skype across the board (from cheap to top-of-the-range phones) might help them to re-capture the market share. With the acquisition of Skype and the integration of Skype application with future versions of Windows for computers, tablets and smartphones, the whole Windows platform is becoming a very interesting proposition indeed.
Second big winner is Facebook. Even though the company competed and lost against Microsoft, Microsoft is a significant shareholder in the ever-growing social network and has very close ties with the service. According to our sources close to the heart of the matter, Facebook needed Skype for their upcoming call service dubbed Facebook Voice, for allowing users to call each other through browser interface and on phones directly (revenue stream). Now, Facebook will have to license Skype from their shareholder Microsoft.
Biggest losers seem to be Google and Linux community. How will the future of Skype look, especially in regards to applications for Apple iOS and Google’s Android operating systems – time will tell. If our crystal ball is right, Microsoft will finance the rapid integration between Skype and Windows Phone, Windows on tablets and desktops/notebooks, while Android and iOS apps will primarily be used to continue revenue source.