Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Volpi and Index Smack Back at Skype Founders With Motion to Dismiss (Plus Filings!)

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The legal high jinks in the contentious battle over the fate of Skype got worse this afternoon, as former Joost CEO Michelangelo Volpi and Index Ventures filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the founders of Skype–Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, via Joost and Joltid–against them.

It’s yet another chess move among a group of well-known tech players, who used to work together closely and are now at odds.

In a filing in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, Volpi and the London-based Index–where Volpi now works–noted, referring to a bid Zennström and Friis made to regain control of Skype, which they sold to eBay (EBAY) years ago:

“Instead of accepting the fact that their bid failed in the marketplace, Friis and Zennström are now using inflammatory and highly-charged litigation–through companies that have no relationship to the Skype purchase–to try to achieve their personal business goals.”

A spokesman for Joost and Joltid did not agree with Volpi’s assessment:

“Mr. Volpi’s latest motion appears to have been prepared prior to Defendants receiving Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which is filled with evidence supporting Plaintiffs’ claims. In light of this strong showing of substantive evidence, much of it from Mr. Volpi’s own correspondence, there is no basis for Mr. Volpi’s assertion that Plaintiffs have somehow failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Index was a small player within a group that won Skype, putting in $75 million, in a $2 billion deal that is set to close in the next few weeks.

The motion to dismiss the filing is not surprising given that Joost and Joltid filed a motion for preliminary injunction against Volpi and Index yesterday.

They are asking that he not use knowledge or confidential information he got at the video start-up in current dealings with Skype.

To complicate things further, the innovative and entrepreneurial pair also own a company called Joltid, which has licensed key technology for Skype to eBay.

Joltid and eBay have already been fighting in court over that agreement, bickering back and forth about whether eBay violated the terms of that deal or not.

Via Joltid, Zennström and Friis also filed suit again against Skype and its owner, eBay, for copyright violations in the U.S.

For good measure, they added the winning buyout group, including Index, Silver Lake Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

And both Joltid and Joost have also sued Volpi personally, as well as Index, making serious allegations about his behavior as Joost CEO.

Here are several key legal filings to peruse, for all you “Law & Order” types:


Motion to Dismiss _00302105_


Opposition to Motion For Expedition _00302104_


Volpi Opening Brief 10.15.09 _00302101_


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik