Skype for Business: It's About Time.

Periodically, I read about something an organization is doing - finally - and find myself thinking:  "Oh, for goodness sake.  What took them so long?  Everybody else has known this for years!"

That was immediately my thought on reading that Skype - the VOIP provider - is finally offering its services to businesses.

As if businesses - large and small worldwide - haven't been using the service for exactly that purpose.  For years.  For free - or nearly so.

Give me a break.

The only ones who didn't seem to realize the money-making potential - and cost savings being realized by businesses - was Skype, itself.

When eBay bought Skype in 2005 - paying $2.6 billion in cash and stock - the logic of the deal was e-commerce.  After all, eBay had its online auctions and PayPal.  Skype was going to be another piece of how that machine worked.

Only it didn't - and that's on eBay and its then CEO, Meg Whitman.  Because they forgot the most important lesson of all in M&A: You have to have a plan for how what you've bought is going to make you money.  Fast and sure.  Before you buy.

Even at that time - and even using the language "e-commerce" - it was clear that Skype had money-making, business potential.  Yet, throughout the time that eBay owned Skype, the thing that never happened - at least not in a structured, profitable way - was the build-up of paid business users of the service.

As a result, eBay ended up selling Skype to a private investment group four years later (which includes Andreessen Horowitz about which I wrote a few days ago) for $1.9 billion.

That group has taken the nearly 40% of Skype's business calls and figured out how to turn that into a business.

For goodness sake.  It's about time.

I'm glad that Skype is entering the fray of business communications providers.  The market exists and is growing.  And it will continue to grow - simultaneously because of decreased travel budgets and an increased human need for face-time even if in absentia in this oh-so-technological world.

So, good luck to Skype and bravo to its investors for getting them going in a good direction.  The win for those of us who are long-time - or even new - users will be the investment in improving their already user-friendly services even more than before.

This is a good news story.  A little late in the day (not least for the eBay investors who lost money on the deal) - but good news all the same.