eBay and Skype founders settle lawsuit


Skype's founders have bought back 14 per cent of their firm from eBay, after settling a lawsuit over software rights.

eBay bought Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion from founders Niklas Zennstrm and Janus Friis, but this year decided to spin it off to investors including Silver Lake Group.

Since then, Zennstrm and Friis's new firm Joltid and would-be buyers Silver Lake have been engaged in a legal battle over who owns the software behind Skype.

Silver Lake and Joltid have apparently agreed that Skype owns all the software which it previously licensed, giving it control over the software. On the other hand, Zennstrm and Friis will join Silver Lake, bringing a "significant capital investment" and being handed a 14 per cent stake in Skype.

That will leave Silver Lake and other investors with 56 per cent of the company, while eBay will keep 30 per cent.

It also means the previously agreed deal between Silver Lake and eBay will close at the end of this year, with the investors buying their stake from the online auction firm for $1.9 million, suggesting Skype is worth $2.75 billion.

"Skype will be well positioned to move forward under new owners with ownership and control over its core technology," said eBay's president and chief executive John Donahoe.

"At the same time, eBay continues to retain a significant stake in Skype and will benefit from its continued growth," he added in a statement. "We look forward to closing the deal and focusing on growing our core ecommerce and payments businesses,"

Silver Lake managing director Egon Durban said his group was "very pleased" the legal battle was over. "We remain confident in a great future for Skype, and we look forward to working with Niklas, Janus and the other investors as partners to help the company achieve its full potential."