UPDATED 22:13 EDT / APRIL 10 2009

Skype Founders Making a Run To Take Back Skype?

image Are the founders of Skype trying to take private the company that they founded from eBay? The NY Times is reporting that according to sources close to the discussions, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have approached several private equity firms and are pooling their own substantial resources to make a bid for the Internet calling service.

If they pull this off it will be the steal of the century. I’m bullish on Skype in terms of overall value both strategically and on the execution side of current management. Fact is, Skype is flying and very relevant to this current Infrastructure 2.0 market opportunity.

Skype has been in the news lately on delivering on their promises to upgrade their functionality and feature set to make Skype mainstream. It’s been working. Skype now has over 405 million registered users up big time from 53 million when eBay bought it, and the service had $145 million in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2008.

We reported here at SiliconAngle that Skype is doing their first TV advertising campaign and recently announced a“hella-popular” iPhone app with free calling from an iTouch. Yes, Skype is on fire. I’m not sure eBay will let this go for a song. NYTimes is speculating that the price will be around $2 billion.

More from the NY TImes

Analysts believe eBay is looking for a price of at least $1.7 billion, the value of Skype on its balance sheet after the company wrote off a portion of the acquisition in 2007.

While there has been market speculation recently that eBay would sell Skype to another large corporation, it’s unclear whether anyone else is interested. Google was a losing bidder for Skype in 2005, but has since developed its own Internet-based calling service, Google Voice.

One key factor that might scare off other potential buyers is a brewing intellectual property dispute between eBay and the Skype founders. In a regulatory filing April 1, eBay disclosed that Joltid, a company founded by Mr. Zennstrom and Mr. Friis, had terminated eBay’s license to Joltid’s peer-to-peer technologies, which are at the heart of Skype’s calling service.

EBay said in the filing that it was asking a British court to rule that it was not in breach of the agreement, but the matter is unlikely to be resolved by the end of the year. Without a settlement or other resolution, the dispute is likely to dissuade anyone other than Mr. Zennstrom and Mr. Friis from considering an acquisition of Skype.

My favorite Skype story is the latest IPhone app. Here is Kurt Thywissen, lead engineer on the Skype for iPhone project, explaining all in the video below, but I suspect that many of you will want to dive straight in and download it now.

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