Why eBay bought Skype

Great note from Joel on “Why eBay bought Skype“. Joel’s smart, if a little cynical, but there’s logic behind what he says.

No time to add my own comment (more shame on me), but this extract sums it up well.

A lot of big, profitable tech companies — Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — especially Google — hired carefully and have very good software development organizations. Especially Google. When they have extra money, they try to build something new. Whether it’s A9, .Net, or Gmail, it’s designed and built in-house in hopes of getting into a new business.

But eBay somehow got taken over by a swarm of MBAs way too soon and became an organization that was basically incapable of developing software. The evidence for this is the whole BillPoint/PayPal fiasco, in which eBay tried to create their own payment system, BillPoint, but found themselves so constitutionally incompetent at creating software by themselves that a scrappy team of outsiders at PayPal made a system that eBay users preferred 2 to 1, despite the fact that eBay repeatedly tried to force auctioneers into using BillPoint instead.

And then, with “cynicism gain” even higher:

This is what MBAs like to do anyway. They don’t completely understand how to make companies but they do enjoy buying and selling them.

Oh, and before you ask, I neither have nor want one.