eBay in what could be viewed as an inside corporate deck chair shuffling type move has named a new CEO for Skype. I say could, because the selected CEO actually brings some very good chops to the once disruptive telco-pipe-IM player, and he himself has been on the leading edge with at least two companies. The pick comes after a very exhaustive search for a new Skype leader that included at least two external candidates having extensive meetings late last year with former eBay leader Meg Whitman and other Skype/eBay executives, one of whom eBay may have actually made an offer to who was already London based, a European with mobile industry experience.
The new CEO, Josh Silverman, brings some very impressive credentials to Skype, from eVite and Shopping.com. He'll initially relocate to Tallinn and start to fix what eBay has to considers the most challenging part of Skype, the technology team, according to some eBay folks. He'll base there for twelve weeks, starting in March and then relocate to London, to run Skype day to day.
After conducting their search with headhunters and executive recruiters sometime in late Fall 2007 ebay pulled back to explore "strategic options" which have included their shopping Skype to potential suitors for sell off. Since they didn't get close to their asking price, enter Silverman who now has the arduous task of fixing things that help eBay extract value out of Skype post write down, which he seems more than capable of doing.
In a note to me, Silverman said that, "joining Skype is a very exciting opportunity for me. Over the near team, I plan to focus on looking at ways that we can improve our execution and continue to grow Skype."
Silverman has past experience working in Europe so his pick from inside eBay was the best move they could make from the current crop of executives to manage the Estonians and the team in London according to well placed sources close to the search. It's a smart move on his part to go to where Skype's future lies. The technology is the core but customer support, which other bloggers have picked up on at Skype is also a challenge these days, and he'll need to fix that while he's over there. Take a look at pal Tom Keating's post on this. It mirrors a regular number of similar comments that have come my way.
My take is simple. Good hire by the new eBay CEO to promote from within. But don't expect much news from Skype and Silverman for a few months. He's got a lot of internal work to do, including sifting through the current team in three different locations and building his own model for the company.
Update-Om Malik, has similar thoughts to mine. Ironically, I had not read his post until after writing mine.
Update 2--Take a gander at Jim Courtney's post too while you reading.