Nicholas Carr on eBay – Skype

15 Sep ’05

Nicholas Carr has the sanest analysis I’ve seen so far of the bizarre eBay acquisition of Skype. Gist:

So it comes back to a simple question: Was buying Skype the cheapest way for eBay to add voice communication to its auction service? I have yet to see anyone, including eBay itself, make a convincing case there. Hell, Skype would have probably bent over backwards to be eBay’s voice channel, on terms that would have given eBay a big chunk of any user fees with no upfront investment at all. And if Skype wasn’t game, one of its competitors surely would have been.

The media is slightly less credulous of this merger than they were of similar events during the bubble, but there has still been far too much swooning and adulation this time around, far too many extravagant efforts to justify the deal on intangibles, and far too many efforts to torture reason and sense to bake a justification for the deal. Sometimes wanting it is enough, and the constellation of justifications is just post-acquisition wishing-it-were-so stories we tell ourselves. There will always be crowds of advisors willing to tell any CEO that any idea is the cat’s pajamas.

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