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Skype founder quits

As eBay makes tacit admission it overpaid

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Skype co-founder and chief executive Niklas Zennstrom has quit his job running the eBay-owned IP telephony outfit day-to-day.

In an SEC filing, also today, eBay said it would take a $1.43bn hit in charges relating to Skype in Q3.

Some of Skype's early investors who stood to gain as much as $1.7bn from eBay if the company hit profit targets for 2008 and 2009 have decided to cash out now, trousering a mere $530m. eBay said the payment "is reasonable given the progress and anticipated rapid growth of Skype's active user base". How it plans to make money from a rapidly-growing group of freeloaders remains foggy.

The remaining charges of $900m stem from a fall in Skype's valuation since it agreed to lay down $2.6bn in 2005 in a deal that got a mixed reception from Wall Street. eBay is writing down the deflation of the VoIP bubble.

The boardroom shakeup will see Skype's current chief strategy wonk Michael van Swaaij take the reins until a permanent replacement for Zennstrom is found. The serial entrepreneur, who founded Skype in 2003, will take up a new position as non-executive chairman and spend more time on new projects.

Skype has hit headlines recently with a lengthy outage that cut users off for a week. ®

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