Zennstrom_5
Zennstrom_5

Before they get too deeply into their next thing, maybe Skype’s founders should start paying a bit more attention to matters of a more pressing pecuniary nature. To wit: the $1.5bn they stand to pick up if their internet telephony business hits its financial targets under new owner eBay.

To judge by the latest results, that payday could be in danger. eBay says it has fallen behind on its plans to "monetise" Skype (though useage grows by leaps and bounds – but then, the service is largely still free, so why wouldn’t it?)

Speaking to the FT after announcing otherwise stellar results this week, Meg Whitman was insistent that Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have not taken their eye off the ball.

"They’re very engaged, in particular Niklas," who is working pretty much full time still on Skype, she said. "He is highly motivated by the earn-out, it’s a big chunk of money. It’s a three-year bullet: they either get it or they don’t."

The problem, according to Ms Whitman, is not that the methods eBay hopes to use to make money out of Skype are not working. Rather: "We just didn’t try them. We were otherwise engaged."

Zennstrom and Friis were given three years to make their big bonus, and it’s already nearly a year and a half since the deal with eBay was announced. The clock is ticking.

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