(22-Jul-10) Skype, which disrupted the telecommunications industry with free or low-cost calls routed over the Internet, is once again an independent company. EBay (EBAY) bought the Estonian startup in 2005, but, after a strained relationship, sold most of its stake for $2 billion in November. Now the new owners, led by private equity firm Silver Lake, are imposing business rigor on the company and pushing it to grab a piece of the corporate telecommunications market.
Skype is in talks to sell its software through Cisco Systems (CSCO) and ShoreTel (SHOR), both of which make phone systems, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Skype is also doubling the size of its sales and support team to better reach business customers and respond when technical issues arise.
Skype is already a verb for the more than 520 million consumers around the world who use it for phone calls or video chats. According to a report by investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners, Skype had $705 million in revenue last year, a 28 percent jump from 2008. The corporate market, which research firm IDC values at $203 billion, presents a more lucrative opportunity.