Skype axes marketing chief before Microsoft takeover

Doug Bewsher: Skype’s chief marketing officer is axed.

Skype, the internet telephony provider, has unceremoniously booted out chief marketing officer Doug Bewsher and seven other executives ahead of its £8.5bn (£5.2bn) takeover by Microsoft.

The news was reported yesterday by Bloomberg, in a follow-up of a report on blog Skype Journal, and quickly led to speculation that Skype wanted to eject its executives before their stock options grew in value when the Microsoft deal closed.

In addition to Bewsher (profiled by Marketing in April, just eight months into his job), the vice-president and general manager for the Americas and advertising Don Albert and six other boardroom members were also dismissed.

They were: David Gurlé, vice president and general manager for Skype Business; Christopher Dean, head of consumer market business development; Russ Shaw, vice president and general manager; and Anna Gillespie, head of human resources.

Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, the founder and senior vice president of mobile video sharing software firm Qik, which Skype acquired earlier this year, were also shown the door.

According to reports, the timing of the dismissals has resulted in the value of the executives’ stock options being lower than if they had remained until after the sale.

A spokesman said:

  • “Skype, like any other pragmatic organisation, constantly assesses its team structure to deliver its users the best products.
  • “As part of a recent internal shift, Skype has made some management changes.”

Microsoft confirmed in May that it would buy Skype, with a price tag being four times more than analysts had expected. At the time Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said the deal would enable Microsoft to create the “future of real-time communications”.

Microsoft aims to disrupt the mobile market with its acquisition of Skype, according to industry specialists.

In 2010, 170 million Skype users made more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls.
Skype lost $7m on a turnover of $860 in 2010, and had debts of $686m.

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