Fellow VoIP blogger Andy Abramson has been spending a lot of time with some high-level Skype folks over the last week or so. We're talking with execs as well as decision-makers at alliance partners.
While Andy seems to be encouraged by the talent level and dedication of many of the Skype execs he has been meeting with, he senses an overarching trend. As he puts it:
"Another closely aligned advisor to Skype continues to shake his head in wonderment at they way things are being done and how many, if not almost all of the successful aspects of Skype's culture are being dismantled by eBay's leadership team. There is this almost Borg like eBayization of Skype in process and it's starting to resonate in whispers that are being heard, so while it's needed in some ways to grow the asset, I don't think two and a half months of observation is enough time to figure out what made it work, even if the whole process of buying Skype started back in May when one of Meg's top level aides issued a memo to key staff to learn and gather as much as they can about VoIP and Skype."
The Borg, of course, are the half-humanoid half-robot species of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek;Voyager fame. The ones that assimilate everything in their path, and whose deeds have given rise to the phrase, "resistance is futile."
Andy then goes on to tell us accounts of new managers brought in by eBay, who are starting to exhibit "power hungry" and "micro-management" tendencies, geographical separation between Skype's London-based braintrust and eBay's California-based headquarters, and software releases that may have come out of the womb a bit too soon.
Andy then adds this zinger:
"It's also more and more apparent to me that Skype is an eBay company, not only an investment. That means the leadership team needs to be here, all together, for at least six to nine months solidly in order for real integration to occur. Conference calls, chats and exchanges of documents will only go so far. And if not corrected the investment will not meet the earnout levels that are expected. And that won't be good for anyone."
It would be kind of ironic (don'tcha think) if Skype execs decided that to right their ship, they needed to spend more time live at eBay. Ironic, especially given the fact that Skype is setting out to be a leader in IP-based video conferencing.