Tag Archive | "skype"

Airbnb headed for a $1 billion valuation

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AirbnbSocial bed and breakfast startup Airbnb is in the process of closing a $100 million round of funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz that would raise the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion, according to TechCrunch.

This is a significant investment for Airbnb, which has previously raised $7.8 million, and comes days after actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher invested a significant amount of money in the company.

Kutcher, who was an early investor in Foursquare and the deal to purchase Skype back from previous owner Ebay, is increasingly being looked at in the investment world as someone to watch when it comes to predicting the next hot startup company.

Airbnb offers a service in which travelers looking for a unique experience (similar in scope to a bed and breakfast) can rent a living space from locals for a fee.  The service has seen incredible growth of 800 percent in the last year and had over 1.6 million local homes booked since it launched in 2008.

An investment this large may seem drastic, but Airbnb looks to be fulfilling a need in the marketplace. And while business trips and conference attendees will likely stick to booking hotel rooms, Airbnb could make a real splash with recreational travelers .

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Airbnb headed for a $1 billion valuation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


AirbnbSocial bed and breakfast startup Airbnb is in the process of closing a $100 million round of funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz that would raise the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion, according to TechCrunch.

This is a significant investment for Airbnb, which has previously raised $7.8 million, and comes days after actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher invested a significant amount of money in the company.

Kutcher, who was an early investor in Foursquare and the deal to purchase Skype back from previous owner Ebay, is increasingly being looked at in the investment world as someone to watch when it comes to predicting the next hot startup company.

Airbnb offers a service in which travelers looking for a unique experience (similar in scope to a bed and breakfast) can rent a living space from locals for a fee.  The service has seen incredible growth of 800 percent in the last year and had over 1.6 million local homes booked since it launched in 2008.

An investment this large may seem drastic, but Airbnb looks to be fulfilling a need in the marketplace. And while business trips and conference attendees will likely stick to booking hotel rooms, Airbnb could make a real splash with recreational travelers .

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Airbnb headed for a $1 billion valuation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


AirbnbSocial bed and breakfast startup Airbnb is in the process of closing a $100 million round of funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz that would raise the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion, according to TechCrunch.

This is a significant investment for Airbnb, which has previously raised $7.8 million, and comes days after actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher invested a significant amount of money in the company.

Kutcher, who was an early investor in Foursquare and the deal to purchase Skype back from previous owner Ebay, is increasingly being looked at in the investment world as someone to watch when it comes to predicting the next hot startup company.

Airbnb offers a service in which travelers looking for a unique experience (similar in scope to a bed and breakfast) can rent a living space from locals for a fee.  The service has seen incredible growth of 800 percent in the last year and had over 1.6 million local homes booked since it launched in 2008.

An investment this large may seem drastic, but Airbnb looks to be fulfilling a need in the marketplace. And while business trips and conference attendees will likely stick to booking hotel rooms, Airbnb could make a real splash with recreational travelers .

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Microsoft: Street Seeks Silver Lining In Skype Deal

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Microsoft (MSFT) shares are down 2 cents at $25.65 in early trading following yesterday’s 0.6% decline after the announcement the company will buy Internet calling firm Skype for $8.5 billion.

The day after stories, and the analyst notes seem largely to take a positive tone despite the sticker shock the Street experienced yesterday.

The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Wingfield writes this morning that Microsoft’s deal is a sign of the consumerization of technology, and makes passing reference to Cisco Systems’s (CSCO) failed effort with Flip video cameras. And Wingfield ends with a quote from Meg Whitman, who bought Skype when she was head of eBay (EBAY) in 2005. “Is Skype worth $8.5 billion? I don’t know, but it depends on how big the platform grows.” Wingfield notes that eBay will make a profit of about $1.4 billion on the deal.

Steve Lohr writes in The New York Times this morning, “by stitching Skype technology into Microsoft products, used by hundreds of millions of people, the software giant could hasten the mainstream adoption of video communications, especially in businesses.”

DealBook’s Evelyn Rusli writes that Microsoft settled on the $8.5 billion price in mid-April, after CFO Peter Klein travelled to private equity backer Silver Lake’s offices and the parties involved had discussions about valuation for several weeks.

A Reuters’s Breaking Views column by Richard Beales and Agnes Crane write this morning that, “the transaction is unlikely to pay off.” They note that past deals have floundered: the $6 billion purchase of aQuantive in 2007, “hasn’t borne any noticeable fruit in the battle with Google. Neither has the software giant’s search deal with Yahoo.”

Ann Winblad, a venture capitalist with Hummer Winblad, was on Bloomberg television last night, saying, “It’s the kind of bold move microsoft should be making … I think it’s a brilliant strategic move for Microsoft. It’s a chess move they need to remain competitive with Apple and Google, and it gives them an opportunity to partner further with Facebook, one of their core partners.”

And Bloomberg’s Dina Bass, Douglas MacMillan, and Joseph Galante this morning write that Skype refused to settle for less than $7 billion in its talks with Microsoft, citing anonymous sources.

The Financial Times’s Lex column writes that it’s all about Nokia: “If voice and video over the internet is going to become a big presence in mobile, it makes sense for Microsoft, desperate to differentiate its mobile operating system from Apple’s and Google’s, to buy the dominant brand. Will the network operators play along?”

And what of the analysts?

Walter Pritchard with Citigroup reiterates a Buy rating on Microsoft and a $35 price target. The deal “makes sense,” he thinks, and he lays out some possible “leverage”: the Kinect line becomes the “killer home video conference system / Win phone”; the business division, where it can integrate with Microsoft’s “Lync.” “Some of these integrations could potentially drive meaningful competitive advantage and augment existing Skype revenue that today is almost all based on calls to landline and mobile phones.”

Tavis McCourt with Morgan Keegan sees benefit to Nokia (NOK), Polycom (PLCM), Logitech (LOGI) and Plantronics (PLT) as “video and voice services will require more headsets and video bridging hardware. Nokia may benefit if Microsoft builds in any unique features not available on other handsets.” McCourt thinks Microsoft’s negotiations with telcos will become tougher as they view Skype as a threat, but, “Ultimately, we believe carriers will lose this battle.”

On that score, Craig Moffett with Sanford Bernstein this morning observes that Skype threatens the most valuable portion of the telco economy: basic connectivity. Voice service produces about $1 per megabyte in wireless services, whereas data service — Web browsing, etc. — commands only about 5 cents per megabyte. Undercutting that rich voice goldmine is an “arbitrage opportunity,” he writes, and tech companies love arbitrage. “Perhaps it was the threat of Facebook acquiring Skype that moved Microsoft to pay 10 times revenues,” writes Moffett. “Just don’t expect the carriers to be amused.”

Adam Holt with Morgan Stanley notes that while Microsoft has been developing unified communications with Lync and Xbox Live and Win Phone 7, Skype has 13 patents and over 400 patents pending “in areas from video delivery to data compression.” Moreover, though the valuation is rich, Skype’s metrics have been improving, the company is gaining more importance in social networking, and anyway, there are a lot more M&A deals being done in the $6 billion to $8 billion range, so what could Microsoft do? Use of foreign cash, he notes, is “found money.”

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

MSFT: Skype A Use For Int’l Cash; Nokia Rises

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Responses are trickling in to Microsoft’s (MSFT) announcement this morning it will buy Internet phone calling firm Skype for $8.5 billion.

The conference call with Steve Ballmer and Skype executives starts in just a little bit, at 11 am, Eastern, so there’s likely to be more response later today after analysts’ have had a chance to ask some questions and digest the whole thing.

I would note that Nokia (NOK), Microsoft’s partner in smartphones, is beating the market this morning on no particular news, perhaps a reaction to Nokia’s now having another arrow in its quiver given its partnership with Microsoft for phone software. Nokia shares are up 20 cents, or 2.4%, at $8.61.

Sandeep Aggarwal with Caris & Co., who rates Microsoft stock a Buy, writing early this morning before the formal announcement, thinks “an acquisition of Skype by Microsoft makes sense, given how important “communication” and “mobile” are for Microsoft.” The $8.5 billion price tag implies a 25 times multiple of enterprise value to Ebitda, “which is somewhat rich.” It also would imply $2 per share in proceeds to eBay (EBAY), he calculates, given the latter’s 30% stake in Skype.

Aggarwal sees Microsoft working Skype into its “Lync” server for businesses and maybe putting it into Office. There’s lots of ways to enhance Windows Live for consumers and also add to its Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Collins Stewart analyst Kevin Buttigieg, who also has a Buy on Microsoft, this morning writes that this “isn’t the kind of transformative deal investors may have liked to see Microsoft do with $8.5 billion.”

“Skype is a large deal at a relatively expensive price that doesn’t transform any MSFT business quickly or in a way which improves perception about its ability to compete in a post-PC world.”

It will require “solid execution,” he writes, which is not something Microsoft is known for, he writes. The deal appears to be neutral to Microsoft’s non-GAAP EPS.

Is this a hidden plus? Buttigieg points out that as Skype is incorporated in Luxembourg, which means that Microsoft can use some of its international cash, which is 80% of its cash balance, for the deal.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5B, headed to Kinect, Windows Phone, Office

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Microsoft this morning confirmed that it has acquired internet video chat company Skype for $8.5 billion in cash.

And just like that, Microsoft has become a key player in the world of video chat. The deal is also Microsoft’s biggest acquisition yet, which tells us the company is finally looking closely at the possibilities of video chat after seemingly ignoring the technology for years.

Early reports of the deal surfaced last night following on the heals of word that Skype has been in deal talks with Facebook and Google.

Microsoft says that Skype will support the Xbox 360 and Kinect; Windows Phone (which doesn’t support front-facing cameras yet) and other devices; as well as software like Outlook. The company will also continue support for Skype on other platforms like Mac and Linux.

Skype will be transformed into a new division in Microsoft, and Skype CEO Tony Bates will be president of that division.

While many are already calling this acquisition the end of Skype, there’s no doubt that the video chat company has a lot to gain from Microsoft. For one, it won’t have to worry much about its revenue problems anymore. Plus, Skype will finally be able to bring on more developers to polish its software — recent updates have added some cool features like group video chat, but the software has also gotten slower and more difficult to use in the process.

Of course, there is some reason for concern. Microsoft hasn’t yet proven it can deftly integrate an acquired company into its fold. And Skype already went through a failed acquisition by eBay in 2005, so the company must be worried about being mismanaged once again. But overall, it seems like both Microsoft and Skype may be able to benefit from this union.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Microsoft Sags On $8.5B Skype Deal; eBay Up 4%

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Microsoft (MSFT) announced a short while ago that it will pay $8.5 billion in cash to purchase Skype, the Internet calling firm that was bought by eBay (EBAY) in 2005 and spun out in a leveraged buyout in 2009.

The deal is a confirmation of rumors that circulated yesterday on GigaOm, and then were picked up by The Wall Street Journal later in the evening. And it appears that DealBook was right on the money with their $8.5 billion prediction.

Microsoft this morning said Skype’s technology will advance the use of real-time video and voice communications for both consumers and corporations.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Skype “is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world” and that “together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

Ballmer will hold a press conference on the deal at 8 am, Pacific/11 am, Eastern. You can tune into it live here.

Microsoft shares are currently down 46 cents, or 1.8%, at $25.39 in early trading. Shares of eBay, which stands to reap some of that windfall for its remaining 30% stake in Skype, is up $1.38, or 4%, at $34.50.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Microsoft In $7B Skype Deal? Oh, How They Laughed When eBay Paid $2.6B (Update)

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The Microsoft (MSFT) -for-Skype rumor is gaining ground.

GigaOm’s Om Malik earlier today offered a recap of rumors that “have been swirling around Skype” for a week now, with Reuters having written that Google (GOOG) and Facebook were looking for a deal with the Internet calling firm, or maybe looking to buy it. Malik wrote that Microsoft “has entered the mix.”

And tonight, The Wall Street Journal’s Anupreeta Das and Nick Wingfield are writing that Microsoft is “close to a deal to buy Internet phone company Skype Technologies SA for more than $7 billion,” citing anonymous sources.

Negotiations have been “wrapping up” this evening, they write.

eBay (EBAY), which bought Skype for $2.6 billion in October of 2005,  later sold the company in November of 2005 for $1.9 billion in cash, for a net gain of $1.4 billion, and a 30% stake in Skype to private equity shop Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and venture firm Andreessen Horowitz in a leveraged buyout.

eBay listed its 30% stake at $620 million in last year’s 10-K filing, implying a value of roughly $2 billion for Skype.

Obviously, then, a Microsoft bid of this size would represent not just a premium t0 recent valuation, but multiples of the 2009 buyout, if it happens.

Some people thought eBay was crazy when they paid $2.6 billion in 2005, and there were also stories from Silicon Valley that some Skype backers at the time thought they should have asked for much more.

Microsoft ended the fiscal Q3 in March with $50 billion of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, and long-term debt of $12 billion.

Remember that bidding for Skype has been a spectator sport for some time. Back in August of last year, TechCrunch reported Cisco Systems (CSCO) was interested, which was then refuted by sources, Eric reported the next day.

Malik himself proposed back in September that Facebook should buy the company, and that it might have to pay $7 billion to $7.5 billion.

Remember, too, that Skype filed for a $100 million public offering last August, led by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley, which has since been amended multiple times. The latest version, filed last month, lists $860 million in revenue for all of 2010. That would represent 20% revenue growth from the $719 million the company reported in 2009.

Effectively, then, Microsoft would be paying on the order of seven or so times trailing revenue. Skype had a pre-tax loss of $57 million in 2010, according to the filing.

The prospectus from April also records $690 million in long-term debt that was racked up to facilitate the leveraged buyout in 2009, against $142.5 million in cash and equivalents.

Microsoft shares ended the day down 4 cents at $25.83.

Update: All Things D’s Kara Swisher reports tonight sources tell her the deal is done and will be announced early in the morning. Skype is to be integrated with Microsoft’s Windows Live service. Swisher says reports of Facebook’s interest in Skype were “overblown,” according to her sources.

And Andrew Ross Sorkin and Steve Lohr of The New York Times’s DealBook report sources are saying the price tag is $8.5 billion, including the assumption of the debt.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Skype in deal talks with Facebook, Google amid IPO delay

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After delaying its IPO until the second half of this year, Skype is now said to be in deals talks with Facebook and Google.

Both companies are apparently trying to form joint ventures with the video-calling company, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also considered buying Skype outright, sources in the know tell Reuters.

But with dozens of reports about Google and other companies trying (and failing) to buy Skype over the past few years, it’s difficult to tell if things will be any different this time around.

A Skype deal could be valued between $3 billion and $4 billion, while the company expects to raise around $1 billion from its IPO, the sources say.

Last fall, Skype added the ability to log-in with Facebook Connect, which made it easier for users to call and video chat with their Facebook friends. A further deal with Skype could bring the service directly into Facebook so that users can call their contacts without leaving the web browser. That’s a feature already offered inside of Gmail with Google Talk, but it’s not difficult to imagine how Google could take advantage of Skype’s massive user base and brand recognition with a joint venture.

In the long run, Google may have more to gain from a relationship with Skype, especially as it’s attempting to take on the iPhone’s FaceTime video chat with Google Talk on Android phones. Skype also recently brought video chat to its iPhone app, while Skype video chat on Android phones is limited to only a few devices.

Skype filed for an IPO last August, but the company has reportedly delayed it until the second half of this year to let new CEO Tony Bates find his footing.

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Deals & More: StylistPick raises $8M for personalized shopping tips

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Today’s funding announcements include offers and promotions for apparel, cocktails and virtual objects:

StylistPick brings in $8M for trendy fashion hints: The London-based e-commerce site has raised a first round of funding co-led by Accel Partners and Index Ventures to provide users with monthly fashion recommendations. Founded in 2010, the company first identifies a user’s style based on a survey, then sends an email each month with suggestions for shoes and purses. StylistPick, which gives users the option to purchase any item in the email for a flat rate of $65, previously raised a round of seed funding from Index Seed and angel investors.

Poggled grabs $5.6M to promote nightlife: The free nightlife website has raised a second round of funding led by Tom Grossi of New Enterprise Associates to offer drink deals and party packages for bars and nightclubs. Since launching in June 2010, the company, which previously raised funding from Groupon investor Lightbank, has focused on Chicago, though it plans to expand to additional cities soon.

GoldRun gets $1.1M for augmented reality service: The New York-based startup has raised angel funding for its augmented reality mobile app. The service, which launched in November, allows users to receive real-world rewards from brands for their interactions with virtual objects. In 2011, GoldRun plans to expand its offerings to gaming and user-generated content.

Oktogo.ru brings in $5M for online travel site: The Russian hotel booking site has raised a new round of funding led by Skype investor Mangrove Capital with participation from ABRT Venture Fund and Ventech VC, a French fund. Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, the company launched in 2010 and provides users with a hotels database of more than 2000 hotels.

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