The Great Debate

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg – Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

The deal values Skype at a face-saving $2.75 billion, well above the $1.7 billion at which it has been valued on the ecommerce giant’s books. Ebay also stands to keep a 35 per cent stake in the company.

But that overlooks the humiliating $1.4 billion eBay has written off on the original deal. Four years ago, eBay promised to pay up to $4.3 billion for Skype, but it later scaled back the total payout. All told, it makes Skype one of the biggest value destroyers of any Internet merger since the last days of the dot.com era.

Ad strategy at root of Facebook privacy row

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Social networking phenomenon Facebook has beaten out arch-rival and former market leader MySpace by most measures of popularity, except the one that pays the bills.

While Facebook has outpaced MySpace in bringing in members — it has 175 million active users at the latest count, compared with around 130 million for MySpace — it has struggled make money from them. While MySpace is closing in on $1 billion in revenues, Facebook generated less than $300 million in sales last year, reports say.