Yes, F(Financially, wink wink)-ing brilliant, indeed.
Former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler thinks that Skype's introduction of free calling within the U.S. is an effort to "toy with the mouse" before you kill it.
"The buzz on the Street is that the Vonage IPO is on the rocks. They HAVE to raise money or they are in a world of hurt," Kessler writes. "Their investors don’t want to put another penny in and the company seems to still be bleeding cash, $75 million in the first quarter of 2006. Geez, Vonage is begging customers to buy 20% of the deal - not a great sign.
"What better way to do away with the Vonage IPO and raise their cost of capital then scare investors even more," adds Kessler.
To make his point, Kessler does the math.
"At Skypeout = zero, its infinite minutes. The value of what Vonage provides has just gone from $25 per month to somewhere close to $0, goose egg, nada," he writes. "Tough to get a return on equity with those kind of numbers.
"F-ing brilliant," adds Kessler, saying that he would like to shake the hands of the person that thought this out.
Well, it may not be eff brilliant, but it is smart.
Still, I have to wonder, what does Skype do at the end of the year, when this promo is supposed to cease? How can it dare to sunset this offer when even cheaper calling plans are sure to be in play?