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Google and Facebook Salivating Over Skype

Reuters reports that both Google and Facebook are mulling over deals to either purchase Luxembourg-based Skype outright, or to drum up some kind of joint venture. The news arrives after Skype reportedly delayed its initial public offering (IPO) in October 2010 due to the appointment of Cisco Systems' former senior vice president Tony Bates as the new Skype chief executive.

According to unnamed sources, Skype has engaged in "strategic discussions" with Facebook, Google and other unnamed companies. On the Google front, an alliance with Skype is less likely to happen given the current evolution of Google Talk and the Android OS. The search engine giant revealed last week that video chat will become a native part of Android as of v2.3.4. The new feature will first appear in an over-the-air update rolled out to Nexus S devices over the next few weeks, and then will be added to other Android 2.3+ devices in the future. Still, unnamed sources claim that Google held early talks for a joint venture with Skype at an undisclosed date.

As for Facebook, the popular social website has much more to gain in acquiring or teaming up with the VoIP service. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly been involved in internal discussions about actually purchasing Skype, yet other sources claim that the company has contacted Skype to form a joint venture. Either way, a Skype deal could be valued at $3 billion to $4 billion, and both would benefit from each other's large community of users. The drawback is that neither has proven revenue models according sources close to the matter..

Skype originally filed a registration statement to go public last August, and is still shooting for an IPO for the second half of 2011. But as rivals Google and Apple invade Skype's territory with their own VoIP solutions (Google Talk and Facetime), Skype's value as a pioneer in VoIP technology diminishes. Skype reportedly either needs to go public and boost its overall value, or strike a deal with Google, Facebook or other companies seeking the VoIP technology.

Thursday Reuters said that China's largest social networking company, Renren Inc, has already gone public and saw nearly a 57-percent surge in its first day of trade. Even LinkedIn is planning to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, bringing to the table a IPO of $175 million that's expected to launch later this year.