Will Skype be assumed into Avayatel? Or will it stand on its own in the Silver Lake portfolio and transform into an IPO butterfly? Bloomberg.com writers Edward Robinson and Joseph Galente think the latter is more likely. They have a story worthy of a Hollywood treatment: the two Skype founders, Niklas ‘Mr. Spock’ Zennstrom and Janus Friis built the company into a major VoIP service (over 50 million subscribers), lost the company, and then fought their way back to regain some control.
Now the new owners of Skype, private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and Andreessen (yup, the same) Horowitz LLC, have plans to extend Skype to the world of corporate voice. Can rebellious, Web 2.0-ish Skype take over calls that were once ruled by PBXs?
Easily! Outside of the largest and staidest of companies, the rest of the corporate world would be quite comfortable using Skype to make free calls. Younger workers routinely bring their smart phones to work and think nothing of Skyping their co-workers. The static phoneset on their cube desks is seen by Generation X, Y, and Z as a quaint device, an antique that serves a better purpose as a paper weight.
I know. Skype will be a hard sell to law, banking, insurance and making it past xenophobic IT departments. But even in these places, younger folks raised on cell phones and instant messaging will be pulled by Skype’s appeal of mobility and freedom.
The legacy PBX vendors, including Avayatel (which is owned by Silver Lake), have their own VoIP software for cell phones. True, you get more office-y features (conferencing, station dialing, etc) but sacrifice the ability to use the same software to connect with other vendors’ VoIP enabled gadgets
Skype makes all this irrelevant, and with their large base of subscribers they take advantage of being there first with the biggest address book (currently over 500 million entries).
My guess is that Skypes’s foray into the corporate world will initially take the form of specialized addressing that will let business users connect to co-workers using familiar four- or five- digit numbers.
So where is Avayatel in this? They can give an assist to their Silver Lake team mate Skype with a gateway of sorts that translates between SIP and Skype’s proprietary VoIP protocols. (Editor’s note: I guess you’re not going to talk about a few cultural differences between Skype and Avaya?)