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Why the high price for Skype

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The reason that eBay paid such a huge price for Skype has now become clear. There were several companies competing to buy Skype, and just before the bidding closed, eBay decided the best way to win was to place a giant bid just a few seconds before the end. (This might be known as bid skyping.)

On a serious note, it has long been eBay policy, it is reported, to not want to facilitate communications between buyers and sellers, because they will just arrange to avoid eBay fees by selling outside eBay. Either this has changed, or the "obvious" parts of the plan -- Skype presence on eBay auctions, "Skype the seller" buttons and so on, are not part of the value for eBay.

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There are stories that when the Skype lads met with Whitman, they whiteboarded all sorts of ideas about the future. One can only speculate that much of the perceived value in the acquisition comes from that creative energy.

Personally, I'm left guessing whether eBay wants to incorporate Skype's hierarchical peer-to-peer communications model into their auction technology. In effect, to try to use the bidder's and seller's (and even "innocent third parties" according to the Skype model) computers rather than eBay's own servers.

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