My first question reading this list was – why no telco? Skype generate almost all of their income from PSTN with circa 8 million subscribers paying an average of $97 per year for PSTN access. Wouldn’t it be a natural fit for a telco with global ambitions (easy answer to this – there are no global telcos) or at least a defensive play against a loss of revenue as users shift from PSTN to calling over the internet? Then I took a look at the figures and realised the telco element of Skype is a complete red herring. It is user numbers and specifically user attention that Facebook and Google want so they can do what they do best – serve ads to a captive audience.
Take a look at a couple of rough comparisons:
Facebook – 500 million users with 700 billion minutes per month of time spent on the site (official facebook site) – market value currently talked of $50billion
Youtube – 2 billion views a day (viral blog) which on my assumption of an average of 2 minutes per view could be getting on for 120 billion minutes per month - its hard to know what value Google put on youtube now
Twitter – reports of 200 million users with which could mean up to 5 billion (scaling up on the digital buzz blog) requests to Twitter each day and a possible market valuation of $7billion
Now compare the above numbers to Skype who reportedly have over 500 million with an average of 145 million users logged in on a monthly basis (techcrunch). While the reported numbers of voice and video of 207 billion per year is much smaller that Facebook, Twitter or Youtube the user must be logged into the Skype application for much longer.
Such a weight of user number and the length of time a user logs in gives a specialist ad serving organisation like Facebook or Google the ideal opportunity to monetize Skype. Skype for Business and Skype Out are minority business interests and the suitors of Skype know it, I just wonder if Silver Lake truly appreciate that it currently holds one of the few internet businesses with the scale and relevance to match the marque names of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube that if sold correctly could serve billions of dollars of ads to users on a global basis.