Back when eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion (potentially $4.1 billion), the company tried to justify the decision with a variety of vague statements. However, two specific rationales stood out: (1) it would be easier for eBay buyers and sellers to talk to each other (2) Skype was huge in China, where eBay had very little presence. The China story didn't make much sense. First off, as had been announced before the acquisition even occurred, Chinese telcos were looking at ways to block Skype, a process that has continued to move forward. However, even without that, it was never clear why someone who used a free VoIP system would then turn around and start using an online auction, just because it was the same company. The first point, about eBay buyers and sellers talking, didn't make much sense either. As we noted at the time, it's extremely rare that a voice conversation is needed in an eBay transaction. Turns out that we weren't alone in feeling that way. The executive director of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, a group that apparently represents the top sellers on the site, says that most of the group's members have no interest in Skype, and prefer to discuss auction results via email as they've always done. So, we've now crossed off the two big reasons why the company was worth buying at all (neither of which explained the price tag, either). What else is there?
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