Skype’s IPO Filing: 8.1 Million Customers And Plenty Of Risk

Skype’s $100 million IPO filing shows a company with big ambitions to monetize the online telecoms space, but with relatively few customers so far and plenty of risks in sight…

The document reveals how the company’s current owners had to raise $825 million in debt to buy the company from eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) last fall. Skype says it’s now also investing $37 million in infrastructure capex this year.

The filing describes how last year’s settlement, which transferred ownership of the IP for Skype’s underpinning P2P infrastructure from Joltid to Skype itself, resulting in Joltid, the P2P company operated by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, making “an investment of $80 million in us”.

Skype has also invested $6 million in Rdio, Inc a new social music service founded by Friis and Zennström, and $10 million in Atomico Ventures II, LLP, a VC fund operated in part by the pair.

Skype does not say how much of the $100 million proceeds of an IPO would go directly to shareholders. The company is also vague about how many shares its major shareholders own, and only listed the owners that hold more than five percent. Those include: Silver Lake Funds, eBay, Joltid and CPP Investment Board.

Skype intends to float to drive up user numbers and, along with them, paying VoIP customers. Skype has already recently been toying with making calls from mobile apps premium-only.

— It says the paid user base is up by 23 percent from last year – less than the 36 percent increase in the total user base.

Paying customers were 8.1 million in June, of a 124 million average monthly user base – so there’s clearly room to grow…

— Total registered users is 560 million, so the majority of Skype accounts are no longer connecting – indeed, 20 million of them are people who automatically registered when creating a MySpace (NSDQ: NWS) account, and use Skype “infrequently”. “We have notified MySpace that we do not intend to renew our contract arrangement with MySpace, through which users can register through MySpace, when it expires on November 27, 2010,