Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and a member of the board of directors of eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), said activist investor “Carl Icahn is making up a fake conspiracy out of “thin air” regarding the transaction of the e-commerce company involving Skype.
Andreessen denies Icahn’s allegations
In a blog post, Andreessen “categorically denied” the repeated allegations of Icahn that he had secret information that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) intended or wanted to buy Skype, and that he improperly used such information for his own benefit against the interest of the shareholders of eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY).
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Microsoft’s initial interest not strong enough
Andreessen pointed out that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) engaged in discussions with eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) regarding the possibility of acquiring Skype before a group of investors led by Silver Lake purchased a majority stake in Skype. Microsoft decided not to participate in the bidding process due to concerns regarding the lawsuits against Skype filed by its founders.
According to him, the interest of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was not strong enough to acquire Skype at the time and “could dispel some concerns” raised Icahn about the deal.
With regard to the accusation of the activist investor that he did not fulfill his responsibility to shareholders as director of eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) because he participated in the group of investors who purchased 70% of Skype, Andreessen reiterated the statement from the e-commerce company that he recused himself from the negotiation. He also pointed out that his firm has a minority stake ($50 million) in the buyout group, which acquired Skype for $2.75 billion in 2009. eBay retained 30% stake in Skype.
Skype settled lawsuits
Andreessen said the founders of Skype filed more lawsuits to stop the transaction of eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) with Silver Lake. The founders agreed to receive a stake in Skype to settle their charges against the company.
After settling the lawsuits, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) eventually decided to purchase Skype for $8.5 billion from the investors group, according to Andreessen.
According to him, eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) was aware that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was a potential buyer of Skype given its early discussions, but decided to walk away from bidding in 2009. Andreessen repeated the statement of eBay CEO John Donahoe that the company “looked at other bidders,” and selected the highest bidder.