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Facebook and Google Said to Both be Courting Skype

Despite having freed itself of the shackles of eBay, it seems that there are some rumors that Skype is once again in talks to be sold off to another owner, or that it possibly could be looking to form a major joint venture.

Reuters is reporting that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been involved in talks with Skype that would see the leading social network purchase the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provider for $3 to $4 billion dollars.  The two companies have been working together since the latter half of 2010 on integration, and with Skype having now delayed its initial public offering (IPO) of common stock, it seems that Zuckerberg and crew may think it’s a better idea to just buy the company outright.

Skype logoNot to be outdone, it seems that Google has also come calling at the door of Skype, but instead of looking to purchase the company, they would like to work on some form of massive joint venture.  What the nature of this would be is unclear, and one would have to wonder what such a deal would do to the future of the search giant’s own Google Voice telephony service, or its own forays into VoIP via the Google Talk app.

According to the anonymous sources, both offers currently on the table are plays for the users Skype has as much as they are for the technology the company has developed.  The service has a very engaged user base with the number of simultaneous users routinely topping 27 million.  While it would seem odd for Facebook to be chasing this number considering it has over 600 million registered users, adding Skype to its portfolio would allow the social network to be that much more integrated into its user’s lives.

As for Google, the search giant has been desperately looking for away to engage its users on a more regular basis than people just coming to the site a couple times a day to search on sports scores and some random piece of information.  The search company has been trying to get some sort of social initiative going for years now, but has been met with nothing but failure.  While Skype isn’t a social tool per se, it is a service with a lot of engaged users, and possibly a more social layer could be added to it.

What’s odd here are the rumored numbers.  While $3 to $4 billion sounds huge, that would mean the current owners, who happen to be the original founders, would only be looking to make somewhere over $1 billion more than they paid to get the service back from eBay.  That hardly seems to be worth the time and trouble.  Speculation is that Skype could make as much as $1 billion from its IPO, so it would seem the Google deal would make more sense, whatever it turns out to be.  The company still gets its money, it gets to keep operating, potentially only making it more valuable, and they get some new exposure from working with Google.  The sale to Facebook actually doesn’t make that much financial sense to me.

As all of this comes from anonymous sources, it has to be taken with a grain of salt, but it does sound like Skype may be back in play.

What do you think?  Should Skype stay solo and just offer up its stock, or should it consider these rumored deals?

[via Reuters]


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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