TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Gripes From Skype Users After eBay Buyout

Gripes From Skype Users After eBay Buyout> ((
Tue, 13 Sep 2005 14:22:27 -0500

By Adam Pasick

Ebay's acquisition of Skype could be worth up to $4.1 billion to
investors in the Internet telephony start-up, but it is getting mixed
reviews from Skype's fervent supporters.

It was the hard-core Skype fans whose word-of-mouth advertising helped
it become the world's largest voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)
provider without spending a penny on marketing. It has some 54 million
registered users and usually has more than 3.5 million people online.

But the sale to eBay could signal the end of the evangelical zeal from
users that drove Skype's rapid growth. Its software -- which offers
free computer-to-computer calls between Skype users -- has spread in
classic viral fashion, as each new user convinces friends and family
to sign up.

In a poll on the forums ,
69 percent of users said the acquisition is not a good thing, compared
with 23 percent in favor of the deal.

"In my opinion, the takeover by eBay means to me possibly and probably
the end of free Skype services. I anticipate a very bad future for us
here but I sincerely hope I am wrong," the Skype user Alan2 wrote on

Users also raised concerns that the purchase of the Luxembourg-based
Skype by a U.S. company could mean new legal constraints on the

"How much time before someone makes a Taliban joke and the feds
descend on their home with the Patriot Act?" Skype user Slvaldor
wrote. "How long before the music and movie cartels start suing for
snooping access to Skype's network through the (U.S. Digital
Millennium Copyright Act) DMCA?"

The U.S. government is considering regulating VoIP services, which
could include provisions for law-enforcement wiretapping.

A ruling by the Federal Communications Commission in August required
that some VOIP services provide for wiretap access within 18 months,
but it is not yet clear whether the order includes Skype.

Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis are sticking with
Skype, and eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman said on Monday that she
intends to nurture the core Skype business even as its voice call
features are integrated into eBay.

The early adopters of fast-growing start-up services like Skype often
become disillusioned when their favorite company is sold. Some users
of the popular online photo site Flickr (
revolted last month when the new owner Yahoo moved to require Flickr
users to register as part of Yahoo's network.

Yahoo and fellow online powerhouses Google, Microsoft and AOL, are
aggressively targeting the voice-over-Internet market, so unhappy
Skype users will have plenty of options if they decide to leave the

"We can just sit back and watch. Smile. And hey, if eBay is doing that
bad we can just switch to tons of other VoIP software," said user Uhura.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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