Skype is shedding executives in the wake of the Microsoft merger. A Skype spokesperson confirmed Monday that eight executives are leaving the company after Microsoft's $8.5 billion buyout in May.
"Skype, like any other pragmatic organization, constantly assesses its team structure to deliver its users the best products," the company said in a written statement. "As part of a recent internal shift, Skype has made some management changes."
Skype didn't reveal whether the executives were terminated or resigned. However, the exiting executives include David Gurle, vice president and general manager of Skype for Business; Don Albert, vice president and general manager for the Americas and advertising; Christopher Dean, head of consumer-market business development; Anne Gillespie, head of human resources; Doug Bewsher, CMO; and Russ Shaw, vice president and general manager. Skype employees Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, founder and senior vice president of the Skype-acquired Qik, also departed.
The timing is no accident. The Federal Trade Commission approved Microsoft's buyout on Thursday. Bloomberg reported that the executives' stock options would be worth more if they stayed until after the Microsoft deal closed, so Skype and Microsoft stood to gain by letting them go before the acquisition's finale.
"This type of executive shuffling is fairly typical. If you want to turn it into an exercise in tea-leaf reading, then those spaces are likely to be filled by existing Microsoft executives or insiders who understand how the company works," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"Some of those Skype executives were involved in core business strategy issues that are at this point essentially irrelevant, since the company is going to be taking its go-to-market and marketing orders from Microsoft's organization now," he added.
A Lot to Prove
Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone 7, and various other Windows devices. Microsoft will also connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live, and other communities it owns. And Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.
Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, and Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. Bates expects the Microsoft buy to "accelerate Skype's plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate." Skype boasts about 170 million connected users who logged more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010.
"Microsoft is a company that feels it has a lot to prove right now. They've had a very good year or so with the success of Windows 7 and Office 2010 and Xbox Kinect," King said. "So they may have a solid idea of how to make this work in a way that is unique for them. But I'm not seeing quite that clearly yet."