Another Fine Mess
When anyone with a laptop, an iPhone or a Android phone can use Skype, what on earth is the point of owning it?
Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype looks like one of those deals where a silvery-tongued investment banker has persuaded a CEO of the benefits of a take-over only for the CEO to wake up scratching his head after the deal is done wondering: “Why on earth did I do this?”
It’s like buying a public footpath. Anyone can walk along it, so why should anyone want to own it?
Any CEO will tell you he’s constantly bombarded with telephone calls from these investment bankers suggesting takeovers. The bankers do it so they can get the takeover business from which they’ll get a fee.
Why did Amazon buy Skype? Some say to give its customers a way to order Amazon goods. But they already had multipe ways to do it.
Intel-MacAfee had the same sort of ring to it. There was kind of a suggestion of a techie reason for it – hardware anti-virus technology – but it was pretty vague, nothing has come of it, and Intel promised the EC that any technical advantage in that respect from the acquisition would have to be shared with rivals – which rather negates the value of the deal.
Some companies do the takeover thing well. Broadcom has acquired many companies and built significant businesses on the technological expertise they bring to Broadcom.
But what does Skype bring to Microsoft? One of these mornings Steve Ballmer will phone the silvery-tongued investment banker to check on the reason why he bought Skype and will find the STIB unreachable while working on another fine mess to get a CEO into.
And Ballmer will scratch his head and wonder . . . .