Post-Legal Soap Opera: Skype CEO Josh Silverman Speaks!
Late last week, BoomTown sat down with Josh SIlverman, CEO of Skype, to get an update on the popular Internet telephony company.
When we last checked in with Skype, it had turned into the “Peyton Place”–look it up, kids!–of the online telecommunications arena, with lawsuits flying, venture capitalists getting slimed and a general tone of very purple drama.
But in November, settlement of the troubles came, as I wrote:
Silicon Valley legend and now VC Marc Andreessen was making the interview rounds after the settlement between the litigation-addled co-founders of Skype and all the various people they were suing was announced this morning.
He has been tight-lipped until now, due to the morass of lawsuits.
But, as Andreessen told BoomTown in a phone interview about the aggressive legal tactics of Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis that resulted in them finally seizing a stake in the Internet telephony giant by suing him and many other Silicon Valley players:
“We did not take it personally. It’s a clean sheet of paper.”
Well, it is actually a torn, stained and very worn out piece of paper, due to all the various machinations, but bygones!
Andreessen–who knows a thing or two about legal tussles, if you recall Netscape-Microsoft (MSFT)–said the real point is that it is time to focus on the business of Skype rather than fighting over who controls Skype.
“It’s really good to have everyone lined up and rowing in the same direction. We have to capitalize on the opportunity, because Skype is poised for a new wave of growth,” said Andreessen. “They have an amazing head of steam, because the logical way for voice and video communications to be conducted will be over the Web.”
That’s, of course, what Silverman–who has been running Skype since it was owned by eBay (EBAY) outright–wants to focus in on now.
While the e-commerce giant still owns a 30 percent chunk, Silverman is now trying to navigate Skype back to its disruptive and innovative roots, even as big telcos and Internet giants such as Google (GOOG) continue to aggressively compete head-on with it.
He’s doing that using a range of tactics to goose the service’s growth–from cheaper rates to more features to improving ease of use. Given that video is the big focus for Skype going forward, Silverman noted that the company is looking at all kinds of new ways to share presence.
Here’s the video of my interview with Silverman, which took place in San Francisco (although Skype operations are located all over the global map, including what will soon become a larger unit in Silicon Valley):