Was the News Corp Offer for Skype Real?

By | August 8, 2005

Was the story that News Corp nearly bought Skype for $3 billion really true? British paper the Independent on Sunday seems to think so:

 According to well-placed sources, Skype entered into talks with News Corp over a potential $3bn sale. This would have made a massive profit for the two founders and their backers – Hotmail investor Howard Hartenbaum and four venture capital firms – which together put just $20m into the business.

However, talks fell apart last month, just before Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan quit his father’s empire. Skype would have fitted in well with News Corp’s satellite TV interests, which include controlling minorities in DirecTV in the US and BSkyB in the UK.

This was originally reported a week or so ago by the PBS’ Bob Cringely, but lacked sourcing and was knocked down by several folk, including Techdirt.

Unfortunately The Independent’s sourcing is not much clearer than Cringely’s:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is understood to have made a bid approach to the fast- growing internet phone group, Skype, which may have valued the two-year-old operation at almost $3bn (£1.7bn).

Talks have broken down and Skype has denied it is for sale. But sources in the telecoms industry say they expect it to be taken over shortly.

Anyway, one potential clue about the sourcing is in the last paragraph:

Bob Cringely, a US technology expert, said: “What’s most interesting about News Corp and Skype isn’t that the deal fell through, but that News Corp even knew Skype was available.”

So, was Bob a well-placed source for this story, or just a commenter?

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