Skype chief executive Niklas Zennström has stepped down as CEO of the Internet telephone service to become a non-executive chairman of Skype's board of directors and will serve mostly in an advisory role. According to reports, Michael van Swaaij, eBay's Chief Strategy Officer, is stepping in as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is hired.
Many questioned the logic behind the $2.6 billion deal when eBay acquired Skype in 2005. Today, eBay is writing down the value of its investment in the company by $1.43 billion, as Zennström and his fellow Skype shareholders are getting a $530 million payout from eBay to settle all of its future obligations under an earn-out agreement signed as part of the acquisition. Additionally, about $900 million will be taken as an impairment charge to be recorded as part of the company's third quarter financial results.
That's not to say the VoIP company is not a valuable asset for eBay. In the second quarter, ended June 30, Skype's net revenue reached $90 million, up 103 percent compared with the same quarter in 2006. Meanwhile, registered user accounts grew 94 percent to 220 million. However, the company admitted Skype has so far failed to produce the sort of revenues that eBay had hoped for.