Is eBay's purchase of Skype paying off?

Summary:Skype's revenue for the three months ending March 31 came in at a healthy $79 million, up 123 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The revenue tally was disclosed as eBay reported strong first quarter results and upped its 2007 outlook.

Skype's revenue for the three months ending March 31 came in at a healthy $79 million, up 123 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

The revenue tally was disclosed as eBay reported strong first quarter results and upped its 2007 outlook. eBay reported net income of $377 million, or 27 cents a share, on revenue of $1.77 billion. Excluding items, eBay reported earnings of 33 cents a share, three cents better than Thomson Financial estimates.

eBay said second quarter revenue would be $1.75 billion to $1.8 billion with earnings of 31 cents a share to 33 cents a share. In 2007, eBay expects to report earnings of $1.30 a share to $1.34 a share on revenue of $7.2 billion to $7.45 billion. All of those projections top Wall Street estimates.

So why focus on Skype?

I didn't buy eBay's initial rationale for buying Skype, which was roughly based on click to call functionality integrated with eBay's marketplace. Let's face it eBay's $2.6 billion acquisition of Skype in 2005 was pricey.  

That doesn't mean it won't work over time, however. To gauge Skype's success it helps to picture it as a standalone entity. On that basis, Skype's business is just swell.

Skype had 196 million registered users at the end of the quarter, up 107 percent from a year ago. eBay sounds like it isn't in a hurry to monetize Skype either, which may be good for building a mass of users.

eBay said a bevy of new products from Skype are "intended to build community engagement and fuel Skype monetization over time." Was Skype worth the price? That's yet to be determined, but growth is headed in the right direction. Here are the sequential growth rates for the last five quarters for Skype.

  • Quarter ended March 31, 2006: 42 percent;
  • Quarter ended June 30, 2006: 26 percent;
  • Quarter ended Sept. 30, 2006: 13 percent;
  • Quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006: 31 percent;
  • Quarter ended March 31, 2007: 20 percent.

Not too shabby. I may have to shelve my initial skepticism about eBay's Skype purchase if this growth continues. I'm still a few $100 million in revenue from that point, but getting closer.

Topics: E-Commerce

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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