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Skype mulls going online with offline Facebook, Google contacts

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Facebook has reportedly been in talks with Skype, and the company's boss Mark Zuckerberg is said to have mulled over buying the web video chat service.

According to Reuters, which cites various sources familiar with the matter, Facebook isn't the only big gun tech outfit sniffing around Skype.

Google is also understood to have held early talks over the possibility of forming a joint venture with the popular VoIP service.

Facebook, too, has apparently discussed forming a joint partnership with Skype, which is based in Luxembourg.

One source told Reuters that a deal could be valued at $3bn to $4bn. Other sources told the newswire that Skype's delayed IPO could raise around $1bn.

The company revealed in a US regulatory filing last August that it planned to make an initial public offering of its shares.

But Skype's recently-installed CEO Tony Bates pushed the IPO to the second half of this year. In March this year the company began trialling ads on its service.

In its IPO intentions filing last year, Skype noted it was nervous about its intellectual property rights.

"We license technology for certain elements and other components of our products from third parties, including the VP7 video compression/decompression technology, which we have licensed from On2," the company said.

Google of course finally bought On2 Technologies in February 2010 in a deal valued at around $124.6m.

"The VP7 video compression/decompression technology is used to provide high video quality," said Skype. "There can be no assurance that disputes will not arise as to the scope of a relevant license or the terms of our use of a particular technology or that the licensed technology or other technology that we may seek to license in the future will continue to be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all."

Given those concerns, it is hardly surprising to see Skype and Google engaged in early chats together about a possible collaboration.

Similarly, Skype has recently been playing the integration game with Facebook. In October 2010 it inked a deal with Facebook by slotting the dominant social network's News Feed and Phonebook into its software.

It remains unclear if Bates's decision to delay the possible IPO was made to help fluff up Skype's valuation ahead of the firm going public, or if he is simply waiting for the best suitor to step forward with a desirable buyout offer. ®

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