eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has confirmed plans to
unload Internet-calling software company Skype through an initial public
offering planned for the first half of 2010.
eBay’s acquisition of Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005 perplexed many in the
industry, leaving them wondering where the synergies were. eBay has apparently
come to the same conclusion.
“Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and
accelerating momentum,” says John Donahoe, president and CEO,
in a statement. “But it’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and
PayPal. We believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly traded company is
the best path for maximizing its potential.” Skype’s revenue grew by 44 percent
in 2008 to $551 million.
Financial analyst firm FBR Research notes
that while unique visitors to Skype have grown 23.4 percent this quarter to
date, year over year, eBay sites are down 10.9 percent.
"We believe this is a positive step toward unlocking some of the value
embedded in eBay," FBR Research says in
its brief report about the planned IPO spin-off.
This week eBay also sold StumbleUpon, an Internet browsing recommendation
engine that lets users recommend sites to other users. eBay originally bought
StumbleUpon in May 2007 for $75 million and has sold it back for an undisclosed
price to two of StumbleUpon’s founders.
Donahoe, who joined eBay as CEO last April,
says that by separating Skype into a separate company, eBay could again focus
on its core businesses—e-commerce and online payments. The recent moves to sell
some of the company’s previous acquisitions certainly appear to follow that