Was Firing of Top Skype Executives a Way to Save Money?

By Ed Silverstein June 20, 2011

Several top Skype executives have been fired by the company in what is being viewed as a way to pay them less money once Microsoft takes over the company, according to media reports.

Bloomberg News explains the firings “reduces the value of their payout” on stock options.

“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,” Bloomberg explained.

Skype vice presidents David Gurle, Christopher Dean, Russ Shaw and Don Albert were fired, according to Bloomberg, as were Chief Marketing Officer Doug Bewsher and Anne Gillespie, head of human resources, Bloomberg said.

In addition, the company terminated Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, who became part of the team during the 2011 Qik purchase, Bloomberg said.

In its analysis of the move, The Skype Journal notes that Bloomberg News “interviewed an analyst who speculated [the] preemptive firing was motivated by Skype’s investors wanting to get stock back from employees before the deal goes through.”

“There’s a kind of employee stock purchase agreement loophole which permits company owners to buy back stock from non-executive employees at a low fixed price before a merger or acquisition,” The Skype Journal explains. “All the appreciation in company value moves back from employees to investors.”

The Skype Journal described those fired executives as “talented.”

Meanwhile, the company issued a statement which said there was “a recent internal shift” in which Skype “made some management changes.”

According to a report on TechZone360, Microsoft announced the Skype acquisition on May 10. The Federal Trade Commission has approved the deal. The acquisition needed an additional approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before it is officially approved, TechZone360 added.

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Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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