Posts from Skype

Four "Appearances" In One Day

A few weeks ago Gillian, who keeps me on schedule and a lot more, said to me, "there's a day coming up when you are going to do four appearances in one day." I thought to myself that was a bit much but didn't do anything about it.

Yesterday was that day. I gave talks at Baruch College, Google Hangouts/YouTube, Skyped into an entrepreneurs meetup in Milan Italy, and ended the day talking to the Kauffman Fellows Program at the Alexandria Center in NYC.

The thing I learned yesterday is that sitting at my desk and talking to folks around the world, via the power of Google Hangouts and Skype, is an amazing thing. Of course I've been using these tools for a long time. But yesterday was still a bit of a wakeup call for me.

The Google Hangouts/YouTube thing was a MOOC called Entrepreneurship in Education that is being taught by David Wiley, Todd Manwaring, and Richard Culatta. It was an hour long back and forth on the issues around entrepreneurship in online education. Ki Mae Heussner posted about the class on GigaOm yesterday. Here's the video of the conversation.

The really awesome part of this class is the way that Google Hangouts allows you to have a small interactive group talking about things that is then broadcast to a much larger group. I am going to try to replicate that in my final Office Hours next monday in my Skillshare class.

The Skype into the meetup in Milan was equally awesome. I don't have the video of that to share but here's a twitpic that I saw on Twitter after my talk that gives you a sense of how the folks in Milan experienced it:

Milan talk

As much as I enjoyed the talks I gave at Baruch and the Kauffman event, it was the talks that were delivered online that excite me more. Because online video allows me to talk to folks around the world. And I think that takes the conversations I want to have to a much broader audience and hopefully helps people all around the world think differently and ultimately act differently as they bring their ideas to market.

#hacking education

Data Only SIM + SkypeIn

I've been in London all week.

When I arrived at Heathrow I bought a data only SIM in the vending machine in baggage claim.

My friend Simon suggested I set up a new Skype account and get a UK SkypeIn number.

I did that and I have been operating without a voice connection. I use skype for voice, Kik for text, and evrrything else works just fine on data.

It's a pretty sweet lifehack. Give it a try the next time you are on the road out of your home country.

#Blogging On The Road

Moving To Google Hangouts

I saw that Brad Feld has been making the shift from Skype to Google Hangouts. I've been meaning to do that myself. Skype is the only piece of desktop software I have on my various machines other than a slew of web browsers.

But my decision last year to leave the world of files and apps and get to the cloud has been incredibly liberating. I want to finish it off. And so Google Hangouts here I come.

For those of you who have been using Hangouts, is there anyting I need to know? Does it work for multi-party videos? Does it work in all browsers? Does it work all around the world? Any reason why I should not do this?


Skype Out

My friend @David asked me to revisit the post I wrote about Skype spinning out of eBay back in the spring of 2009 in the wake of the news that Skype is headed into the hands of Microsoft. David quotes this part of that April 2009 post:

But the best thing about this is getting the asset back into the hands of the entrepreneurs who created it and built it. We all saw what happened at Apple when Jobs took back the reins of the company and I suspect Niklas and Janus would not be thinking about this if they didn’t have a strong strategic plan for Skype.

I’ve said this many times on this blog and I’ll say it again. Big companies mostly mess up entrepreneurial companies when they buy them and it really is best that companies like Skype stay independant and run by their founders if that is possible. And it looks like that might be possible with Skype. That makes me happy.

We all know that Niklas and Janus were unsuccessful with their bid for Skype. And it is entirely possible that Microsoft will not end up owning Skype. There are plenty of rumors that don't actually come to pass.

But it is equally clear that Skype is very likely headed toward some form of corporate ownership. And my hope that Skype could stay independent will not come to pass.

When Niklas and Janus failed to conclude their attempted purchase of Skype, it traded into the hands of Silver Lake Partners and a group of other investors. This investor group initially tried to keep Skype independent by virtue of an initial public offering. Skype filed to go public last year but the offering never came.

In the past six months, something changed at Skype and now we see the end game is a sale to another corporate owner. We can speculate on what those changes were. Maybe the public market was not that receptive to the offering. Maybe the company was having difficulty growing its revenues as fast as the public markets wanted. Maybe the investors lost confidence in the management's ability to continue to build and grow Skype as an independent company. Whatever the reasons, Skype's experiment with being independent is over and I am disappointed.

We use Skype every day in our office. It is our videoconferencing system and increasingly our phone system. It works amazingly well. Recent UI changes to the new client have been frustrating. On a Skype conference call yesterday, we were all lamenting the loss of the old client where we knew where everything was. Skype brought VOIP to the masses and I'm very certain that someday we will all be communicating by voice and video over IP, maybe via Skype, maybe be other services. It is the future for sure.

I'm not particularly inspired by the idea that Microsoft will do something great with Skype. But I do think they are a better corporate owner than eBay. The second acquisition of Skype isn't likely to change our daily usage of the service. But it may be an inspiration to VOIP entrepreneurs everywhere to think big and create new services that can someday be as big or bigger than Skype. And that's a good thing.


Multi Party Video Calling

I spent some time yesterday afternoon trying to do a group video call. We ultimately couldn't make it work and ended up on an old school conference call.

That was a disappointment to me and I am hell bent to fix it.

I know that Skype just released a new client that supports multi party group video calling. But I've heard that Skype plans to eventually charge for that feature. I don't mind paying but I don't want a service that requires an entrepreneur to pay just to talk to me.

I'm looking for a free service. We tried jabber over gtalk in the iChat client. I've heard that works. But we could not get it to work for us. I think it may have been a firewall issue.

I can toubleshoot the firewall issue if it is on my end but I don't want to be dealing with firewall issues every time I try to video with someone new.

Possibly the best thing about Skype is that I've never encountered a firewall issue with Skype.

Anyway I would love some advice on this. We've got a great video setup on the Mac mini in our conference room and I want to look at the people I'm talking to if at all possible.

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