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Skype for Outsourcing and Globalization - BrainDump

Many companies have thought seriously about acquiring Skype, but eBay and the VOIP provider have made public plans to close a deal by the end of next year. The proposed deal has everyone scratching their heads in confusion. In this internet littered with stupid business ideas, will this one stand out for its questionable foresight and nonexistent synergy?

  1. After Skype Sells, Will eBay Suffer Buyer`s Remorse?
  2. Business Possibilities for eBay Auctions
  3. Skype for Outsourcing and Globalization
  4. Skype's Expensive User Base
  5. Making Sense of a 3 Stage Business Plan
By: Developer Shed
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 10
September 19, 2005

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The more interesting avenue to use Skype will shatter both eBayís and Skypeís business models. Itís more of a melding between Skype and PayPal.

It costs a lot to set up call centers. You need a building, hundreds of phones, hundreds of pieces of office furniture, hundreds of employees, and a lot of phone lines. What would a business owner say when faced with a choice: pay to set up an entire call center, or pay the employees wages and cheap-as-dirt phone bills. Yes, this could be the next and worst step of outsourcing.

Let me back up. The SkypeIn service attaches a standard telephone to a Skyper; the Skyper can choose almost any area code or country for that number, and it allows people on normal phones in that area code to call a Skype user as if it were a local call. So the call is free for the caller, and it costs very little to the Skyper. It is much less than using an 800 number or paying long distance overseas. Now look at eBay's PayPal. PayPal payments and currency conversion are available in many countries, and the scope of PayPalís aspirations is global.

Put this together, and you can have a person sitting anywhere in the world providing customer service to anywhere else, all for the same trivial rate. The only stipulation is that Skype has to have established local numbers available for the caller to dial, and the person paying the phone bill needs to have PayPal in their country.

Of course, you realize this makes call centers unnecessary. So long as the support reps have internet access and Skype, a much smaller office staff could manage and monitor the support calls. The company's employees could span the globe, and wages could even be handled via PayPal. Let's say we have are providing Dell support calls from an office in Seattle. A guy in India with broadband could visit the website of our Dell call center. He signs up to work for Dell on through the site's forms, and the next day he gets an email that directs him to a webpage full of Flash or Quicktime training videos. The Indian guy watches the videos and downloads Skypal (our Skype + PayPal software), gets a database login is connect to Dell's troubleshooting documentation, puts his headset on, and starts taking support phone calls. The Dell office could monitor the calls for quality and not have to pay for office space and equipment. The cost of broadband and the space the employee occupies is all paid for by the work-at-home employee. There are already call systems that let work on call lines from home, but nothing nearly this elaborate or cheap.

Even if employers stick to the traditional office setups and draw from local talent only, this still saves a ton of money for phone service. It saves even more for those who outsource American calls to the other hemisphere.

And if some random dude thinks heís a psychic or a relationship expert or a computer guru, he could start a similar business. He will just need a PayPal option to charge the callerís phone bill like a 900 number, or some similar charge system. He can buy local numbers in areas he will advertise, then sit at home taking calls. His biggest obstacle will be getting people to call him.

Like I said, this use for Skype breaks both business models, but it pull from them both as well. It would be a great undertaking, cost a lot to adapt Skype to work in this model, and be a noteworthy risk for eBay.

Of course, both ways to use Skype are heavily overshadowed by the possibility that eBay could build their own VOIP network. Even if sellers demanded eBay-branded VOIP in auctions, or even if eBay was willing to undertake the endeavor of combining VOIP and PayPal, this does not mean they need Skype. There is the distinct possibility that it would not cost $4.3 billion to start a new VOIP service, or even $1 billion. It would cost much less to start with something completely new. The only thing the start-from-scratch price would not include is Skypeís user base. So how much will eBay pay for a few heads?

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