If there’s anything the dot com bubble should have taught companies last time around is to focus on the business plan and not on the hype, to plan ahead and to avoid the kind of technohubris that seems to haunt CEO’s. Except of course no one ever learns and it’s only the sub-prime meltdown that seems to have avoided attention going to another dot com meltdown 2.0.
Case in point eBay finally admitting that the Skype buy was a mistake. With PayPal and eBay, two serious financial services companies were in place. Skype was the odd man out, a hugely popular program with a 220 million install base. A program whose own leadership has been fired despite quadrupling in size because the company still wasn’t worth anywhere close to the billions eBay sank into it.
The problem of course is that much of what is successful on the web is also free. When eBay pounced on Skype, telephony was supposed to be the next hottest trend. And while internet telephony has its place, for the moment most people are placing their long distance calls to landlines the old fashioned way which leaves Skype with a large user base but no money. Technohubris strikes again.