Skype adds Business Ratings to new beta

Adding a somewhat curious twist to its Internet-based calling scheme, Skype Wednesday announced a new program called SkypeFind, a business-recommendation and rating system that is integrated into the company’s latest beta client for Windows-based PCs.

Though moving into the competitive waters of Internet-based ratings might seem like a stretch for Skype, executives there said the plan was a “natural next step” for the service, which has relied on viral marketing and word-of-mouth recommendation to build its sizable user base. And since the service will also provide click-to-call functionality to businesses, it could also generate revenues from people who pay to reach the PSTN from their Skype client.

Sten Tamkivi, General Manager of E-Commerce for Skype told us that SkypeFind would differentiate itself from other Internet-ratings offerings via its integration with the Skype client. For example, Tamkivi says, recommendations from people on your Skype contact list will “bubble up” to the top of SkypeFind lists. “It will be influenced by the people you already trust,” he says.

In the first few hours after Skype made the new beta client available, it already had 372 SkypeFind listings in 53 countries, Tamkivi said. He added that while there is no commercial advertising yet, the service may accept ads in the future. In terms of editorial control, Tamkivi says the SkypeFind pages will use a Wiki-like functionality so that the user community can change and correct entries. There will also be a direct link from each rating to Skype, where people can report abuses or malicious postings, Tamkivi said. There are no plans to make the SkypeFind ratings available to non-Skype users, he added.