Former eBay CEO Defends Skype Buy

12:50 PM -- Former eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, who is now running for governor in California, defended the company's $2.1 billion 2005 acquisition of Skype Ltd. in a radio interview with KTKZ’s Capitol Hour yesterday.

"Actually I think Skype will prove to be a good acquisition for eBay," she said, after the host noted that one of her opponents, Steve Poizner, had criticized the move. "You probably read that the company just sold about two thirds of the interest in Skype to an investor group, kept a portion, and got almost all the money back, and I think Skype will be very effective."

GigaOm's Om Malik is skeptical, however, writing, "I commend her for riding the eBay rocket ship, but when it comes to Skype, we all know she blew it... How can she defend overlooking and not buying the JoltID technology from Skype co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis? That decision cost eBay another 5 percent of Skype when the auction giant had to settle with the two co-founders."

In other digital media news:

  • Today Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) will begin testing skippable pre-roll video ads on YouTube Inc. According to MediaPost, the test will give Google information such as to what kind of user skips ads and what kinds of ads users skip and might also lead the company toward a new advertising model.

    "We see the ability to skip ads as another form of engagement," said Phil Farhi, product manager at YouTube, who also predicted the site will eventually charge advertisers only for completed viewings of ads.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) has moved MSN Video under the Bing brand name, the software giant announced. Another change: Bing Video will offer visitors content from sites including MySpace, Google’s YouTube, Hulu, and CBS.

    "Starting today and rolling out over the next few days Bing videos will provide a new unified online video destination that delivers a comprehensive, organized, and high-quality video experience. This change will combine the powerful search experience of Bing, with the expertise of MSN video all into one destination," Bing's Kristin Meldahl wrote in the announcement.

    — Erin Barker, Contentinople

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