Skype reportedly fires some execs before Microsoft deal closes
Skype Technologies has reportedly fired some of its top executives in a move that would reduce those executives' payout after Microsoft completes its takeover of the Internet calling service.
"Skype, like any other pragmatic organization, constantly assesses its team structure to deliver its users the best products," a Skype spokesman said in an email. "As part of a recent internal shift, Skype has made some management changes."
Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, reported that Vice Presidents Don Albert, Christopher Dean, David Gurle and Russ Shaw; Doug Bewsher, Skype's chief marketing officer; and Anne Gillespie, who runs the company's human resources, were fired from the company.
"The timing of the dismissals means stock options will be worth less than if the executives stayed until the closing of the $8.5-billion deal" with Microsoft, Bloomberg reported.
Later on Monday, Business Insider reported that the firings did take place, but that they weren't made with the intention of decreasing the amount of money paid out to those let go, as some have speculated.
"Executives at private companies like Skype count on equity as a major part of their compensation. It would set a horrible precedent if firms like Skype investor Silver Lake sacked executives before deals closed just to save themselves a few bucks by avoiding some additional stock dilution," wrote Business Insider's chief executive and editor, Henry Blodgett.
In his report, Blodgett said a Skype investor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told him that Skype CEO Tony Bates, "who joined the company about eight months ago, had finally completed a thorough review of the company's executive team and that he had made the changes to reflect the team he wanted."
"The investor stressed that Bates has to be prepared to run Skype either as a division or Microsoft or -- if the deal doesn't get the necessary approvals (the DOJ and EU still haven't signed off on it) -- as a standalone company," Blodgett said. "So he kept the managers he wanted and booted the ones he didn't."
Either way, the Skype execs in question will be getting a smaller share of the payout if Microsoft is allowed to complete its massive purchase of the popular service.
The tech giant is making steps toward wrapping up its purchase of Skype -- last week, the deal received approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Skype Technologies CEO Tony Bates, left, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announce Microsoft's acquisition of Skype in San Francisco on May 10. Credit: Noah Berger / Bloomberg