When eBay first bought Skype
we were among the many, many, many people left scratching their heads wondering where the supposed "synergies" were. We were told two things. First, that Skype had many users in China who would now suddenly start using eBay for auctions. Why? No one knows. In reality it had almost no effect. Just because you make calls via a software program it doesn't make you any more interested in doing online auctions through its parent company, apparently. Second, it would now allow buyers and sellers to communicate by voice
. But why would they want to? Sure, maybe in a very rare case it might be helpful, but one of the advantages
of an online auction system like eBay is that you don't
need to actually talk to the other party. And if it was that important to talk, the buyer and seller could just agree to use Skype on their own without eBay spending billions. And, in fact, studies showed that this "feature" wasn't wanted
by most eBay users.
But, still, in an effort to show that there really (no, really, really!) were some synergies, eBay integrated Skype into online auctions. Of course, now that eBay has finally admitted that there really were no synergies, taken a huge writedown on the investment and is looking to spin off Skype, the company is finally removing the integrated Skype buttons on auctions
, and are even admitting that the company is involved "in an effort to remove features with limited buyer and seller usage." Was it really that hard to recognize how little synergies there were before spending multiple billions of dollars?