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eBay parachutes ecommerce veteran into Skype hotseat

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eBay has dispatched one of its own to take the helm at Skype, in the hope he can go some way to justify its increasingly baffling multi-billion buck purchase of the profit-lite VoIP app.

Josh Silverman, current CEO of eBay price comparison tentacle Shopping.com, will take over on 24 March. In his inaugural blog post, he writes: "Skype is one of the defining internet technologies of our era... it's changing the world. You don't look forward to something like that. You drop what you're doing and jump aboard."

Skype certainly is one of the defining internet technologies of our era. It was over-hyped, overvalued and has no discernable business plan, other than to recruit more free users.

The number of Skype users continues to grow, but is not reflected in an increase in revenues for eBay in advertising or ecommerce. It makes the $2.6bn soon-to-depart eBay CEO Meg Whitman gambled on P2P VoIP look like a bad bid.

In fact, Silverman's task is enormous. The auction house is facing investor calls to cut its losses - a $1.4bn write down last year - and offload the service.

Skype's founders Nikolas Zennstrom and Janus Friis apparently appreciated the merits of such a strategy when they trousered $530m - a third of their projected take if Skype had been a winner for eBay. ®

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