Right now on Craig's List, there's an ad up for a Senior Product Manager, Skype Integration at PayPal.
Fellow VoIP blogger Andy Abramson mentioned this first, so props to Andy. But let's push the thought-leader ball forward a bit and see what this likely means.
First, the easy stuff. As eBay properties, Skype and PayPal are now siblings of a sort. And PayPal, Internet payment processing wizards that they be, has the infrastructure to offer all sorts of payment options to various classes of Skype users.
Second, Craig's List is 25% owned by eBay, so it would be natural for a PayPal-Skype ad to appear there.
But people, you read me because you hope I get past the obvious. Not to overlook the obvious, but to look beyond it. So let's see what clues about Skype's direction we can derive from a look at this ad.
"Primary Job Responsibilities" are described in the ad as:
The senior product manager will lead PayPal’s product integration with Skype. The senior product manager will be responsible for working closely with the strategy, business unit, and product groups both at PayPal and at Skype to develop a joint strategy against business goals, propose a shared roadmap to meet that strategy, and drive product delivery against that roadmap. He/she will create detailed product requirements and work closely with cross functional teams at both PayPal and Skype to deliver these products. Additionally, the product manager will work with marketing to promote the product and with the international team to address the needs of each local market. We are seeking candidates passionate about communications, particular voice communications. Ideally the candidate would have worked on end user VoIP applications or instant messaging applications.
OK, to me the key phrase is "product." I count that word nine times. And given the term "integration" in the job title, what we may be looking at here is an enhanced level of integration of PayPal with Skype- perhaps even including the Skype UI level. Certainly an icon, perhaps clickable to some sort of a "Buy Skype Minutes with PayPal" function.
But since this is a PayPal gig, and not a Skype gig, we have to think about what Skype integration does for PayPal.
To me, this all starts with integrating Skype functionality into PayPal's Website Payments Standard service. I'll show you a screen shot from PayPal's demo now:
OK, what we are looking at is a procedure that starts when a customer selects an item to buy. Right now, the procedure involves a customer going to a merchant site, choosing what they want, loading that order into their Shopping Cart and then paying with PayPal.
But what if the customer has questions about the merchandise being offered for sale, and wanted to contact the merchant?
A Skype "call this merchant" icon? You got it.
Now what would really be cool is if Skype and PayPal could work up some sort of applet armed with a script that wouldn't only call up the customer's Skype softphone, but would actually call up the softphone with the individual merchant's number all queued up and ready to dial.
Sounds like a job for one of those "cross functional teams" PayPal is hiring a Skype Integration Senior Product Manager for.
(But hey, PayPal, since you are reading this, can you please go after all those bad folks who are sending me spoof emails in your name?)