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
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 https://wiki.skype.net/internal/ToivoAnnus/LeavingFaq
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.
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.