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Google may have been a better fit for Skype than Microsoft, says Skype co-founder

Skype was sold to Microsoft in 2011 for USD8.5 billion

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Google may have been a better fit for Skype than Microsoft, according to one of the video communication platform’s co-founders.

Speaking at Oxford University this weekend, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, said: “Google seems to be more ambitious if you look at the projects that Google is diversifying into, like self-driving cars and Google Glass. It perhaps would have been a better home for Skype.”

Estonian-founded Skype, now 10-years-old, was acquired by Microsoft in October 2011 for $8.5 billion (£5.27 billion) but in recent years it could be argued that the product hasn’t been developed as dramatically as some of the other communication platforms, such as Facebook.

Tallinn puts Skype's relatively slow development down to the fact that larger companies like Microsoft are less agile than start-ups, meaning it can take longer to deploy new features as there is more bureaucracy to get through.  

He also says it’s hard to roll out new software updates for Skype sometimes because Skype is installed on thousands of machines around the world that can’t be updated. “There are Skype instances out there running in six-year-old TV sets that you still have to interoperate with,” he told Techworld at the Silicon Valley comes to Oxford conference on Sunday.

“If you are a fresh start-up that doesn’t have to think about this interoperability and this legacy then your job is just so much easier than it is for Skype who has to work with existing infrastructure that can’t be upgraded.”

However, Tallinn believes that Microsoft and Skype are well aligned today as they are aiming to overcome the same challenges.

“The key problem they face is that Microsoft’s main software (Office and Windows) and Skype’s software (Skype) were developed for a different computing environment than we have today,” he said. “They were developed for desktops, laptops and things that are plugged into the wall or have big batteries.

“Now computation is moving towards devices that are constrained by battery, by memory, by bandwidth. This is a new environment for Office, Windows and Skype. Both companies have to reinvent their flagship products for this new computing environment.”

Tallinn sold his share in Skype when the company was bought by eBay in 2005 for $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion). Today he is working on a medical research company called MetaMed and investing in a number of other start-ups, including UK restaurant chain, Chilango.


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