Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Skype–the Twitter of Yesteryear–Hypes Web Telephone on Television (Plus: Biz Talks Biz!)


SiliconANGLE blogger John Furrier found a supersweet television ad that eBay Internet phone unit Skype is running to goose its brand (see below).

The once-hottest-ever start-up–touted up and down Silicon Valley for its explosive growth back in 2003–is still a major global brand with a massive 405 million user accounts at the end of 2008.

In fact, Skype’s size makes media-overhyped Twitter seem, well, twee, by comparison. Twitter had only 9.8 million unique visitors in February, up impressively from 6.1 million in January.

But the hot-or-not comparisons between the two are interesting to think about.

First, as with Twitter, few pay anything for Skype’s communications services–essentially, it lets consumers make voice and video calls between computers or to other phones via voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP.


Second–although no one seems to care when it comes to Twitter as yet–monetization issues dog Skype, which actually had $550 million in revenue last year (see chart).

Still, right or wrong, many investors argue that Skype was a very bad acquisition for eBay (EBAY), which paid $2.6 billion for it in 2005 and there are consistent rumors that eBay is looking to unload the service.

That’s why it recently announced a plan to enter the corporate market, presumably to give Skype more heft.


Much like, for example, Twitter’s recent partnership with a new ExecTweets service, a compilation of business figures tweeting, which is sponsored by Microsoft (MSFT).

Lastly, of course, Skype is trying new branding to make it seem less shaggy, such as the video below, is part of that push.

As for Twitter, it remains as cute as ever and shows no signs of changing to try and please anyone.


Here is the Skype ad:

And, as an added plus, here’s Twitter’s co-founder Ain’t-Nobody’s-Biz Stone in an interview about Twittermania, which is preciously what it degenerated into on San Francisco’s KQED Public Radio today:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus