Remaining original Skype founders leave VoIP trailblazer

No members remain of the original team that turned Skype into a formidable Internet phone company and the preferred VOIP company for personal customers in Denmark.

Only 10 days after the two founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström left Skype along with Geoffrey Prentice — another early key person — Skype’s technical wizard, Michael Jackson, has also decided to leave the company, which is fully now managed by its owners, eBay.

Jackson is now a partner in the venture capital company Mangrove Capital Partners, which was one of the fist venture companies to invest in Skype.

“Skype is a fantastic product with great unexploited potential, but as the organization grows and changes, a need for new competencies and new types of employees arises. I decided that it was time to move on,” Jackson said in Mangrove’s newsletter.

Jackson took part in establishing Tele2 in Denmark, and this was where he met Friis and Zennström. He started working for Skype in 2003, and in spring 2004 he officially became employed at Skype.

From the beginning, the Scottish engineer was responsible for raising revenue for Skype, which otherwise made capital of free phone conversations from PC to PC.

This means that the products Skype In and Skype Out where customers pay to connect to the traditional telecommunications network were developed under Jackson’s leadership. Today, they constitute Skype’s primary income sources. Skype earns approximately Danish kroner 2 billion (US$3.8 billion) annually on these services

eBay does not own Skype’s technology

Many observers thought that Jackson would take over the chief executive position from Zennström.

Instead, Michael van Swaaij, chief strategy officer of eBay, was installed as temporary chief executive.

Skype’s underlying peer-to-peer technology — the present edition is called Global Index — was originally developed by the Estonian programmers Jaan Tallinn, Ahti Heinla and Priit Kasesalu.

None of the Estonian programmers are employed at Skype, but they all work on a contractual basis to maintain the technology behind Skype.

It is worth mentioning that eBay does not own the Global Index technology, but has a permanent and exclusive right to use it for telephony via the Internet.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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