Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Confirmed: Microsoft Will Announce Acquisition of Skype Tomorrow Morning

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning.

The purchase–which has been spearheaded in closely held negotiations by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with an assist from Business Division CFO Amy Hood and top dealmaker Charles Songhurst–is a bold move for the software giant and its biggest acquisition in more than three decades.

The big price will give Microsoft–which has struggled in its online efforts and has lost billions of dollars for its work–a big brand name on the Web.

With Skype, which has been aggressively expanding, Microsoft will continue to lose money in its Internet efforts. Skype lost $7 million on revenue of $860 million. Operating profits, which Skype preferred to highlight, were $264 million.

And–let us not forget–Skype’s debt is $686 million. Silver lining: That’s slightly less than Microsoft’s Online Services division losses in its most recent quarter!

But, sources said, the concept is bigger than just money, including getting access to Skype’s 663 million registered users.

Skype, which had been headed bumpily toward an IPO until now, will apparently be integrated into Microsoft’s Windows Live and other online communications efforts in both the consumer and enterprise arenas, sources said.

Think Kinect connecting.

Skype has had a big-company owner before–eBay Inc. paid $2.6 billion in cash and stock for it in 2005, as a way for the auction site’s buyers and sellers to communicate.

A 70 percent stake in Skype was sold in 2009 to investors such as Silver Lake Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. It then valued Skype at $2.75 billion.

So, obviously, the deal is a big win for them. In addition, at the time they made their investments, Skype was a huge legal mess with lawsuits flying.

Skype has since gotten cleaned up enough to attract Microsoft.

Other suitors have looked at Skype, including Google, although acquisition interest by Facebook was very much overblown, said several sources.

Interestingly, Microsoft’s new smartphone partner Nokia also held meetings with Skype’s CEO Tony Bates, a former Cisco exec who arrived at the company last fall.

Interest in Skype by Microsoft was first reported by GigaOm’s Om Malik on Sunday.

Tune in at 5 am PT for the official press release, apparently, and lots and lots and lots of analysis of whether Microsoft paid too much for Skype.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google