Skype Co-founder Zennstrom Bows Out

Niklas Zennstrom, one of the driving forces behind the growth of peer-to-peer file sharing on the Internet, has stepped down as CEO of Skype, according to parent company eBay. The early departure of Skype co-founder Zennstrom three years after its acquisition by eBay was attributed to the entrepreneur's desire to focus on Joost, a startup he co-founded with partner Janus Friis to create a software platform for high-quality programming of TV and other forms of video over the Web. Although Zennstrom will remain as non-executive chairman of Skype, his departure as CEO will likely hurt the organization, said Henry Dewing, a principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Zennstrom's sudden departure leaves VOIP (voice over IP) company Skype scrambling to find an appropriate replacement with "deep global and consumer technology background," said eBay spokesperson Jose Mallabo, in San Jose, Calif. In the interim, eBay named Michael van Swaaij, eBay's chief strategy officer, acting CEO until the company finds a permanent successor. A search has already been initiated. In addition, eBay announced that Henry Gomez, Skype president, will return to eBay as senior vice president for corporate affairs. He had remained an eBay senior vice president during his two-year tenure at Skype.

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