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Report: Bill Gates Encouraged Skype Takeover Deal

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates told BBC's Hardball that he had a hand in the company's crazy $8.5 billion acquisition of VoIP service Skype by urging other board members to support the move. His revelation was made during an interview with Hardball's Stephen Sackur that's scheduled to air on BBC on May 18 (Wednesday).

The announcement of the Skype acquisition arrived last week after speculation that Facebook and Google was mulling over a Skype purchase. But Microsoft revealed itself as the mystery pursuer, and announced plans to integrate Skype into Xbox Live and Windows Phone while still supporting other platforms -- even Mac. The deal apparently had Bill Gates' personal seal of approval from conception to completion.

"I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done," Gates said during the interview. "I think it's a great, great deal for Skype. I think it's a great deal for Microsoft."

He added that the move was purely strategic. It wasn't about Skype's current profit (or lack of one), but how the service would benefit Microsoft's other products and services. Although he didn't specify, the acquisition is also a move to better position the company in competing with Apple's iPhone and its FaceTime service.

"The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today," Gates said. "Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue. It'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that."

Last week Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer assured skeptics that things wouldn't necessarily change for Skype after the acquisition-- at least, not on non-Microsoft platforms.

"We will continue to support other platforms," he said. "We are one of the few companies that has the track record of doing this beforehand. We have done a lot of work bringing Office to the Mac and we’ve done a lot of great work with other Apple devices. Fundamental to the value proposition of communications is to reach people whether they’re on your device or not."

According to the company's official statement, Microsoft will connect Skype users "with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms."

  • fyasko
    why is bill gates always throwing gang signs? he is boss man player but still...
    Reply
  • bison88
    I think people just look into the numbers game a little too much. Such as when Intel purchased McAfee out of nowhere for something like $2 billion? At the end of the day nobody buys companies just to end them anymore. That worked back in the 80's and 90's but no longer in this world. Companies have assets and a lead in the field. Microsoft (hopefully out to) have a plan. Ebay didn't, or didn't know WTF they were doing just saw potential and let it sit. This can do something for MS if you think outside the box, on the other hand it can bring an end of VOIP to 150 million people and be a waste of $8.5 billion + hundreds of millions more supporting it if MS fails to be successful. At the end of the day nobody really loses. Skypes gone to crap in the past couple years, each version getting progressively worse. Really, Microsoft can't do much more to make that unstable service worse paying customer or not.
    Reply
  • fyasko
    Bill Gates - "I do not know what to do with my hands..."
    Reply
  • angelraiter
    hum... I thought he was supposed to be one of the smartest people around.. Guess retirement made him soft.. This deal was just terribad. Both for MS and for Skype.. Particularly, it was a terribad deal for Skype users cause now we are all gonna have to be milked for the 8.5b + profit. Kinda worried about this actually, cause I use skype for work every single day, both the free chat and for international calls..
    Reply
  • Microsoft + Skype...===== Micro-Pee???
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    Bill Gates has been underestimated for the last 25 years, if he had a say in the Skype deal then there must be something important and long term involved with it.
    Reply
  • beta tester
    Ballmer has a poor memory...

    Microsoft has no track record of supporting other platforms.

    Internet Explorer on Mac was a dog. Windows Media Player on Mac lacked the Windows codecs. MSN Messenger on Mac didn't support video, but the Windows version did.

    The list goes on and on. When Microsoft says it "supports" other platforms, take that to mean it will let Skype on other platforms wither on the vine.

    As soon as I can find a Skype alternative, I will leave it.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    beta testerBallmer has a poor memory...Microsoft has no track record of supporting other platforms.Internet Explorer on Mac was a dog. Windows Media Player on Mac lacked the Windows codecs. MSN Messenger on Mac didn't support video, but the Windows version did.The list goes on and on. When Microsoft says it "supports" other platforms, take that to mean it will let Skype on other platforms wither on the vine.As soon as I can find a Skype alternative, I will leave it.Is that the fault of MS or Apple?
    You can't answer that honestly and neither can anyone else apart from Jobs or Gates and who ever does tell the truth will be derided by the opposition fanbois.
    If you own a Mac and want to use MS products you should just buy a PC and have done with it.
    Reply
  • beta testerBallmer has a poor memory...Microsoft has no track record of supporting other platforms.Internet Explorer on Mac was a dog. Windows Media Player on Mac lacked the Windows codecs. MSN Messenger on Mac didn't support video, but the Windows version did.The list goes on and on. When Microsoft says it "supports" other platforms, take that to mean it will let Skype on other platforms wither on the vine.As soon as I can find a Skype alternative, I will leave it.
    HAHAHAHA, why would you want to use any windows product on a MAC! That is just stupid!

    Windows +Skype is going to be the future, get used to it, and get excited, I am looking forward to it!
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Gates still holds influence at Microsoft, obviously. At least he isn't some suffocating overlord *cough* Jobs *cough*.

    But hey, as long as Microsoft can keep Skype free, and do something good and productive with it - why not. Microsoft today is open and embracing even on competitors' platforms (i.e. OS X and iOS).
    Reply