Horace Dediu is so crazy smart, it’s not even funny. He tackles a different theory on acquisitions:
Clayton Christensen succinctly defined the value in any company as the sum of three constituent parts: resources, processes or business models. Market value can be nothing more and nothing less than these three things.
And ties it back to Microsoft buying Skype:
If Microsoft were to pay a premium for Skype’s resources then they will probably not make use of the processes or business models. There is some value in this Skype. Microsoft could use the customer base to sustain their existing businesses and to up-sell services.
But what if the real value is not in resources but in the business model? A model which would allow for Microsoft to disrupt its core business. Perhaps Microsoft could use the Skype approach to creating new customers, eliminating its partner network and expensive direct sales force. This would be a different Skype. It would have the potential to transform Microsoft. Microsoft could become what Skype is now: a communications network or carrier that disrupts the way people use network operators.
This type of value exists in Skype but its asymmetry with Microsoft’s core would make it a very tough sell internally. A recent article pointed out that when Skype was up for sale last time, Google’s acquisition was sabotaged internally by people who realized that peer-to-peer would be “incompatible” with the centralized architecture of Google’s services. If not for the effort of certain individuals, Google might have ended up with Skype and destroyed it with internal antibodies.
Chances are that Microsoft paid for Skype’s customers and engineers but will not apply the innovations of viral peer-to-peer distribution or disruptive voice pricing. If that happens then perhaps Microsoft will pay $8.5 billion for the wrong Skype and telecom disruption will find another home.