EBay today will announce the sale of Skype to private investors. The New York Times has more on the coming announcement:
The investment group is likely to include Andreessen Horowitz, a new venture capital firm headed by the Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, these people said. One of the people added that Index Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm that was an early investor in Skype, and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners were also involved. A price was not disclosed, but eBay has said it wants around $2 billion for Skype, which is on track to take in more than $600 million in revenue this year.
EBay acquired Skype in 2005, outbidding Google and Yahoo in a deal that has come to be viewed as one of the worst technology transactions of the decade. Including payouts to Skype’s founders, the price ultimately topped $3.1 billion. EBay later wrote down $900 million of Skype’s value, after it became clear that the company was not a good fit with eBay’s main e-commerce and online payment businesses.
Although eBay has said it was planning an initial public offering for the Skype division next year, it has been talking to various companies and investment groups interested in buying the service. Skype’s founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, approached private equity firms earlier this year in hopes of making a bid for their old company. But they did not meet eBay’s price, and separately the parties are fighting in a British court over ownership of the core peer-to-peer technology behind the Skype service. The case is due to be heard by a British court next year.
UPDATE (from Mashable):
Specifically, eBay is selling 65 percent of the company to a group that includes Silver Lake, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board. The auction giant gets $1.9 billion in cash for the stake, along with a note for $125 million.