Monday, April 18, 2005

What price freedom?

A reader contacted me with the question: what do you reckon Skype is worth? Coincidentally, Rodrigo has had a crack at the answer in his interesting blog. He comes up with a putative figure of $130m, which I work out to be about $130 per SkypeOut customer. The problem is we don't have any way of knowing what the average ARPU per SkypeOut user is. I have spent EUR15 to date, but then again I use Skype almost exclusively to communicate with other Skype users. More intensive users, especially highly nomadic individuals, would probably generate an annual ARPU of $75 without much effort.

All-in-all, if SkypeOut ARPU across the 1m user base was on the order of $40 per user, then a $130m valuation would be slightly over 3x annual SkypeOut revenues. By contrast Yahoo! currently trades on just under 13x prospective revenues, and that's after some fairly savage share price performance in recent days. It is also important to remember that we need to take into account SkypeIn revenues (I am happy to pay EUR10 per quarter for a US number, but I would be surprised if Skype was paying more than $2 - 3 per quarter to supply it), licensing revenues, etc., for which we have no data points to work from - yet. When they become available, we'll be able to put more meat on these bones.

For the record, I have tried to go through official channels to gain more insight, visiting UK Companies House (which maintains financial statements from UK companies), to find that a company known as Skype Limited is somewhat behind in its filings. I assume it's our beloved Skype, but there's no way of knowing. I'm a bit baffled as to why the company would be registered in Worcestershire...

UPDATE: Someone thought it might be a good idea to remind readers that Skype is in fact listed in Luxembourg, just to avoid any misunderstandings. I assume that the mystery company referred to above is either a) a legacy registration from 2003, which was never followed up on, or b) someone infringing Skype's trademark.

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