skype is currently developed by Microsoft-owned skype Technologies. The name was derived from "sky" and "peer".
skype was first released in August 2003. It was created by Janus Friis (Denmark) and Niklas Zennström (Sweden) in cooperation with Ahti Heinla (Estonia), Priit Kasesalu (Estonia), and Jaan Tallinn (Estonia), who supplied the backend which was also used in Kazaa. skype had 663 million registered users at the end of 2010. It was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Microsoft's skype division headquarters is in Luxembourg, but most of the development team and 44% of the overall employees of the division are still situated in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.
The service allows users to communicate with peers by voice using a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet. Phone calls may be placed to recipients on the traditional telephone networks. Calls to other users within the skype service are free of charge, while calls to landline telephones and mobile phones are charged via a debit-based user account system. skype has also become popular for its additional features, including file transfer, and videoconferencing. Competitors include SIP and H.323-based services, such as Linphone and Google Hangouts.
In September 2009, Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board announced the acquisition of 65% of skype for $1.9 billion from eBay, valuing the business at $2.75 billion. In May 2011, Microsoft agreed to acquire skype for $8.5 billion in cash.
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