Zennström gets payout to quit Skype

Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström has quit as CEO of internet messaging company Skype, in a deal that will see him and his co-founders share a $530 million payout.

The online auction firm said it was writing down a further $900 million in addition to the payout to the Skype founders. Analysts say this is an acknowledgment by parent company eBay that it overpaid when it bought the company in 2005 for over $2.6 billion.

The $530 million payout to Zennström, co-founder Janus Friis and their fellow original shareholders releases eBay from any future obligations to the Skype founders. Zennström will remain chairman of Skype for the time being, eBay said.

The amount is a far cry from the $1.7 billion they could have earned under the original terms of the deal if they met specific profit targets.

Commenting on the size of the pay-out, Friis said he and Zennström were happy:

“We are approximately half way into the earn-out period and the settlement amounts to one-third of the total possible earn-out amount.”

Writing on his blog, Friis said Skype “has been an incredible adventure and I am proud to have been part of it.”

“Niklas and I are both entrepreneurs at heart, and this allows us to move on to our next projects – and we are fortunate to have two ambitious projects in front of us.”