The darling of the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) community, Skype, is preparing to take itself into the frightening waters of being a publicly held company. You thought being sold to eBay, and then back out to investors, was scary, wait until you have answer to shareholders!
During the first Internet bubble, Web companies filing for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) happened almost on an hourly basis. Some of them went on to huge success like Google and Amazon, while others didn’t fare as well. The latter left many companies nervous in the following years about rushing into a public offering of their stock, so much so that even the public is wondering why companies such as Facebook have yet to go this route.
Now it seems some companies are timidly sticking their heads out of their caves, and sniffing the air to see if it is safe to re-emerge into the gladiatorial combat that is the stock market. Last week we heard that Demand Media, a company that runs online brands such as eHow and LIVESTRONG, was filing the paperwork to go public, and now we get word that Skype has filed its first paperwork to follow suit.
Skype has had a rather tumultuous history. In Sept. 2005, online auction powerhouse eBay purchased Skype in a move that left many people scratching their heads as to what exactly it planned to do with a VoIP property. Somehow it took them four years to figure out what the general public had already done about it not being a good fit, and late 2009 they sold off a majority share to a group of investors.
Then came the issue that the original founders, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, still owned the core technology that powered the Skype service, and the company had to spend $343.8 million to purchase it from them or rebuild the entire project from the ground up.
Now, that all of the dust is settling, the company has filed this morning for a $100 million initial offering of public stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated will be handling the sale once all of the preliminary work is out of the way. With over 500 million registered users, and $600 million in revenue in 2009, this will be one of the largest Internet companies to be traded. It may not have the “sexiness” of Facebook, but it got to the magical half-a-billion user mark long before the social network did.
No word yet on how many shares, what price they will be, has been announced yet.
What say you? Is this a good thing for Skype?