The WSJ also devotes a Heard on the Street piece to how much Microsoft is overpaying for Skype. It raises the critical question of what the heck Skype’s business model—remember those?—is:
Microsoft’s job may be to make “life better for billions of people” around the world, as CEO Steve Ballmer said Tuesday. But in paying $8.5 billion for Skype, it is improving life mainly for Skype’s owners.
Most of the investors that now own the Web telephony company bought into it only 18 months ago, in a deal that valued Skype at $2.75 billion. In contrast, the chance of Microsoft’s long-suffering shareholders ever seeing a healthy return from Skype is doubtful.
Yes, Skype has a huge user base, 663 million as of Dec. 31, and a well-known brand name. But even in the Internet age, that isn’t enough to generate returns from such a high-priced deal. There still needs to be a decent business model.
Skype doesn’t have that
The Times did put a brief piece up yesterday pointing out that analysts and others are raising questions about what Microsoft paid. That story, however, didn’t make the paper. And if we’re talking about online-only offerings, check the withering criticism of the price from the WSJ columnist Evan Newmark, who says it offers “8.5 Billion Reasons to Fire Steve Ballmer.”
Needless to say, more skepticism is due here from the NYT. The Journal and FT are a model here if we’re going to avoid repeating the media mistakes of the first tech bubble.