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eBay Dishes Up The Numbers on Skype

eBay's CEO emphasized some numbers yesterday and the stock fell.  During a speech at Stanford Meg Whitman indicated that Skype now has over 100 million registered users, while eBay has two hundred million, according to MarketWatch,  which covered Whitman's speech.

What it appears she didn't say is how many eBay users are Skype users, and in not revealing, or with MarketWatch not reporting that, in my view that it is hurting eBay's credibility. You see, by keeping silent on the subject either the folks calling the shots at eBay don't know the answer, or they don't want us to know.

What's the key facts here that research can quantify? It's how many eBay sellers want to receive Skype Me calls from eBay customers and vice versa.  Producing those stats will do a world of good, or at least provide clarity to what's in store in that arena for eBay and Skype.

Since eBay is about to go into a quiet period for earnings, that may also be the reason those facts didn't come out, but with Whitman not telling those key stats, or the lack of them being available to date, they may indeed be the flys in the ointment and one of the reasons eBay stock is dropping.

Even if the numbers of overlapping users and intenders are low today, smart PR people like her aide de camp and Skype GM Henry Gomez, who has tons of telco and public company IR/PR expertise, can easily craft a story around a trend report based on basic research data called a Usage and Attitude study to determine intent. Or by taking information culled from segmentation analysis they can ascertain how different groups of people within the eBay and Skype eco-systems behave today or will behave in the future.

That kind of data is what serves as proof points and right now, they don't seem to be showing any. But according to Skype's PR person Kat James in the UK, what they do
have she told me via a Skype Chat was at first "no, i'm sorry, we don't
have this info" and then adding what exists was "not for public use, no
it hasn't," regarding any data that would be relevant to the overlap being released yet.

If Whitman is as right as she thinks she was when she announced the eBay purchase and wants to circle back to her original messaging regarding the Skype acquisition, something she so elequently explained back then regarding the synergistic aspect and growth opportunities that supported the purchase, in my view by publishing and revealing that kind of research (if accurate) it would be reflective of her vision and would likely have positive impact, but only if indeed the data supported the decision. If the numbers don't reflect her vision, then the eBay/Skype team will need to take what was learned from the research and regroup. It's that simple.

Since eBay has sent research mavens to VON, and other events, I have to believe that like Yahoo, they are studying market metrics and looking at these types of comparisons to do growth forecasts. Or at least, I hope so. 

By not revealing that overlapping user number, and not providing any data on the intent of their buyers and sellers to become Skype users it unfortunately only appears that eBay has not yet seen the kind of uptake they wanted. But in their defence, it's still early.

With an earnings call coming up in July, eBay has a chance to sow the seeds that synergy is working. So come on Meg, show us your goods !!!


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