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Posts from December 2005

Another WiFi Play for Skype

I got told late this afternoon that the city of Taipei will be launching Wi-Fi in the city tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 20t. The little birdie told me the mayor of Taipei will be using Skype to talk the mayor of Tao Yuan - showing the power of the Skype service via the city’s new Wi-Fi service.

They will be using the recently announced Mac compatible Ipevo free-1 USB phone which Om called me on earlier.

This does not seem to be like the Cloud or Boingo deals at this point, but it's still early and I wouldn't be surprised if Skype pulled off another WiFi deal very soon.

Here's a story that updates my post of yesterday.

Do You Know What's Going Over Your Webcam Network?

With a very detailed account of one teenage boy's life, the New York Times today has a very extended feature on the illicit use of webcam by teens who make money selling their bodies.

Over the past months I've mentioned on multiple occasions that the web cam market has a large percentage of "adult" conversation for pay occurring and was under the impression it was more offshore than here in the USA. I guess I'm not surprised.

Nor was I surprised to see some names named. Familiar companies that we all of were basically the enabling tools used to enable payment and gift giving.

There is a concept of ill gotten gains that one sometimes has to consider and given that these dollars were tied to illegal activity, even though the companies themselves were not doing things wrong.

Skype and Linux

Skype is expected to announce that Mandriva a publisher of the Mandriva Linux operating system, that the Mandriva 2006 Linux operating system will integrate software from Skype that add Skype capabilities.

If my information is correct Mandriva Linux 2006 is the first, and only, Linux operating system to offer the Skype application.

Wait Until They Pay You to Call

IP Democracy has a great analysis of the current pricing model that the pure IP VoIP players (i.e. Yahoo, Skype, GizmoProject) are moving forward with.

But I think there is a whole other model that will eventually come into play. That's where they pay you to use the service. While it won't be so transparent, the more added value services you purchase (i.e. voice mail, find me/follow me, unified mailbox messaging, etc.) plus ads that you click through on, merchant club, frequent buyer programs and more that you become a part of, loyalty, affinity and such, all that is data base driven, will result in telephone service being a basic lifestyle amenity.

I keep thinking the mobile guys are a natural for this play also. Imagine having your unused monthly minutes rolled over to your IP calls, and you getting a bonus for calling your friends and family who are on network with you, but the traffic goes IP to IP.

That's the future as I see it, especially with more VoIP via WiFi coming online really soon.

Continue reading "Wait Until They Pay You to Call" »

If T-Mobile Was Smart......

...they would invest heavily in this phone from Nokia around the world, the way they have with the Sidekick and go all out to get the business customer on their GSM networks.

The E61 will also handle SIP I'm led to believe. That would really make it a world phone for if one could get on the HotSpots then all the calls there would be IP.

Since T-Mobile can control POS they move into the space very quickly, but likely would lag behind Boingo which is already making moves in that direction.

Vonage Gets More Cash

In a move that likely is viewed as diluting to pal Jeff Pulver who has some remaining shares in Vonage, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Vonage will announce that they raised $250 million dollars as early as Monday and that it is the last raise of cash before their IPO.

I'm not buying it, and neither is Om Malik, who does his own brand of quantitative analysis. Like Om points out, Vonage is a company looking for an exit, and in my mind they were down the road the right way up until the last raise up.

I don't buy their two billion dollar value either. One million lines or not, their cost per acquisition of each customer is too high, plus the consumer market will soon figure out that they can get phone calling on a Pay as You Go basis for less. Skype is already proving that, as will Yahoo and Gizmo project.

Someone needs to tell the Vonage guys it's time to take the money and run.

Skype in (midlife) Crisis?

Martin muses insightfully that Skype may be having a midlife crisis, as well as pointing out many of the some other underlying issues that over the past few weeks seem to coming to the surface.

Maybe that's why eBay's Med Whitman is taking a trip next week to Estonia around the first post acquisition board meeting. Her Chief of Staff, um, Skype USA GM, Henry Gomez has been reportedly shuttling between London and Tallin the last two weeks organizing things and likely trying to bring some structure to the multiple country operations.

Maybe one of their joint objectives is to continue to keep the impact that the departure in early November of Toivo Annus, the Director of Engineering, and one quarter of a company that was named Ambiant Sound, has on Skype's technology development. You see Annus, along with three engineers who made up Bluemoon Consulting. They were the actual team that did the technological engineering on Skype. Reports are that these guys also got founders stock despite the Skype board on a few occasions trying to possibly buy it back.

Here's a reportedly official leaked copy of the email from Niklas to his Skype team back in November passed on to me from a century club member of the readers society:


Subject: Ott Kaukver Appointed Director of Engineering at Skype

Date: 2 November 2005 12:06:03 GMT+02:00


Hi everyone,

With immediate effect Ott Kaukver has been appointed Director of Engineering.

Prior, Ott concurrently held the positions of Skype’s Operations Manager and Product Manager of Telecom Services. In his new capacity, Ott will be responsible for building the Skype core products. In addition, all Tallinn Engineering Managers will be reporting to Ott.

Ott will also join the Skype Executive team and will be reporting directly to me.

Ott Kaukver joined Skype in 2003. Previously, he served as Head of Software Development at a Tallinn-based software development company.

He has an excellent command of Skype’s culture and work process and he enjoys the strong support from all Engineering managers and core developers, the executive team, Janus and myself.

Toivo Annus has unfortunately decided to leave Skype, but will continue to support Ott and the company in the next few months. Toivo has told me the need to take some time off, following three years of investing himself fully into developing Skype to where it is today. Toivo has been running a 100 meter sprint for three years.

“I owe it to my family,” Toivo said. “They haven’t seen me much during the past three years and I need to make it up to them. Besides, I need some time off myself. It is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to leave Skype, but this is the best time in the company’s history to pass the torch.”

On behalf of the company, the staff, the old shareholders and ebay, We’d like offer him our heartfelt thanks. Although we are sad to see him leave, he has our full support in his future pursuits.

Toivo has played a pivotal role in the Skype success story. Not only has he been responsible for building the superior technology behind Skype, he has also built the dream engineering team in Estonia, by far the best technology team in Europe, possible also in the world. In addition to that Toivo has had a key role in creating the Skype DNA and culture. I am convinced that Toivo will always be a Skyper at heart and our door will always be open for him.

FAQ available at

To strengthen the Skype executive team and in recognition that the majority of Skype staff are located in Estonia we have also decided that Sten Tamikvi, the Skype Estonia General Manager, is also joining the Skype Executive team.

Sten is responsible for all the admin, HR, PR in Estonia. Sten will be Ott's "co-pilot".

Changes are always difficult, but I am convinced that with Ott and Sten we are creating a very strong foundation for the next chapter in the Skype story.

Best regards,


With Annus gone, the other three are also in Romulan Neutral Zone type of half life. They have enough money now. That's more than the other 200 or so Skype employees who got to share a whopping 7% of the total shares. Usually companies in start up mode that are venture backed end up distributing somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.