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5/9/2011
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Skype Rumored In Talks With Facebook, Google, Microsoft

With a planned IPO pending, the VoIP provider may be considering acquisition alternatives.

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Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are all rumored to be in negotiations with Skype for either a partnership or an outright acquisition.

Reuters reported last week that Facebook and Google were in talks with Skype. GigaOm's Om Malik added Microsoft's name to the mix in a post published Sunday and quoted unnamed sources saying an announcement will be coming very soon, perhaps as soon as Monday.

"I can see why all those parties would be interested in Skype," Rory Maher, an analyst with Hudson Square Research, said in an interview. While claiming no insider knowledge, Maher said he thought Facebook and Google made more sense as acquirers because online media is a bigger part of their business than it is for Microsoft. "If Microsoft were to make a technology buy like that, I'm not sure Skype would be right for them."

Malik suggested a Facebook deal makes the most sense, although he said he thought a partnership is more likely than an acquisition. On the other hand, Todd Bishop at Geekwire saw the logic in a Microsoft deal that would tie Skype's efforts to break into the enterprise with Microsoft's unified communications products, such as Microsoft Lync. Microsoft would also get an entrance into the consumer voice-over-Internet protocol market with Skype's software.

None of the parties to these purported negotiations is talking.

Skype filed for an initial public offering in August 2010, at which time there were also rumors that Cisco might be interested in buying Skype. The IPO has yet to materialize, which could be an indication that Skype is struggling to attain its goal of using the offering to raise $100 million.

Malik said the price of $3 billion to $4 billion quoted in the Reuters report strikes him as too low. He has suggested Skype could be worth $7 billion to $7.5 billion to Facebook as a way of adding voice and video communications to its social platform.

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