Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Skype Brings the Secret Sauce In-House

Today, Skype announced their acquisition of Sonorit and Camino Networks for $27 million. Not earth-shattering news, but Skype watchers are anxiously looking for clues as to how they're going to spend eBay's money and build themselves up into something that reflects what they themselves were acquired for.

The press release is not up on Skype's home page yet, but it's included in Phil Wolff's informative posting from earlier today on Skype Journal.

In short, much of Skype's initial success was due to the voice processing technology they licensed from Global IP Sound. Some key people left GIPS last year and formed Sonorit, which has developed their own voice processing technology. GIPS has been contesting this in a lawsuit over unfair competitive practices, but that doesn't seem to be moving very quickly.

Skype's acquisition of Sonorit comes off as a shrewd move in that they now can keep their secret sauce in-house - presuming, of course, that Sonorit performs as well or better than GIPS. Buying Sonorit is a clear signal to me that Skype recognizes the value of this technology, and deems it too important to share with others. GIPS has a healthy roster of blue chip clients, and as the Googles of the world start to horn in on Skype's turf, it's going to become increasingly important for Skype to protect its advantage, which in large part is its voice quality.

Why leave this to chance and let Google, et al license the same stuff as you from GIPS? Or worse yet, let one of them acquire Sonorit/Camino themselves. So, looking at it that way, Skype is playing it smart, and really not breaking the bank along the way.

I'm late to the game posting about this for good reason. As a shareholder, I'm obliged to stay quiet until this becomes a public story. Even then, I have reservations, but given how widely the story was covered, I'm hardly speaking out of school here. Fellow blogger Erik Lagerway is in the same position as me, and commented to similar effect on his posting today.

Erik's post also makes references to two earlier posts, both worth reading for followers of this story - uberbloggers Andy Abramson and Alec Saunders.

1 comment:

ipcom said...

Posted by: Valentina

� Skype Technologies has acquired Internet voice technology company Sonorit. This is Skype / eBay move in the right direction to complete with Microsoft, Google, AOL and Yahoo, Skype core biz is voice and it cannot afford to depend on the 3rd party license, but must own the core voice technology, like Microsoft does,

� However Sonorit/Camino is too small (less then 10 people), was formed as a company just several months ago, has no shipping product, has no single customer, so this acquisition does not solve Skype technology hole yet,

� This acquisition is not to avoid paying royalties to GIPS, this is strategic Skype technology move to compete with Microsoft, Google, AOL and Yahoo, there are several clear less costy ways for Skype to stop paying royalties to GIPS,

� This acquisition validates again high market prices for software voice technology companies, like Skype itself, GIPS, Camino and SPIRIT DSP