Reading about Skype's IPO filing on Gigaom reminded me of a conversation that I and Michael Osterman had with David Gurlé, the general manager for Skype for Business in June. Gurlé was in France at the time when we caught up with him, and we spoke about the Skype's future in the business market. He was bullish, as you'd expect, about their prospects to penetrate business, and went through detailed plans on how Skype for Business would succeed in business communications.
Business is an important area for Skype. The VoIP platform has emerged from being a solely consumer solution to one that is used today by 37 percent of Skype users for business purposes. Building on that success is important for Gurlé's team, as a simple reading of the S-1 filing shows. The Risk Factors section, for example, calls out how Skype's continued growth will depend on its ability to succeed in the business market:
Although our net revenues have increased substantially over the last few years, we may not be able to maintain historical rates of net revenue growth. We believe that our continued growth will depend, among other factors, on our ability to:
- attract new users, convert connected users into paying users, keep existing paying users actively using our paid products, and increase purchases of our paid products by our paying users;
- develop new sources of revenue from our users and other customers, such as business users;
- react to changes in consumer access to and use of the Internet;
- expand into new market segments and integrate new devices, platforms and operating systems;
- increase the awareness of our brand across geographies;
- provide our customers with a superior user experience, customer support and payment experiences; and
- maintain effective and integrated payment processing capabilities.
However, we cannot assure you that we will successfully implement any of these steps," the filing states. Gurlé should be all too familiar with the challenges of the building collaboration platforms for the business world. He came to Skype from Thomson Reuters where he was the Global Head of Collaboration Services. Prior to that he headed up the Microsoft's Real Time Communication business.
And in good fashion, he's focused the group on the premise of the virtual office. Quoting Garter statistics, he points out that by 2011, 46.6M employees will spend at least one day per week teleworking; more then twice that many (112 Million) will work from one home one day/month. Lest you think that's only in enterprises, at least 50 percent of business operates from one or more location and nearly 20 percent operate from six or more locations (Quericia Insight, "Information Security for SMBs," December, 2007.)