Skype is filing for an initial public offering not even a year after Canada Pension Plan Investment Board invested $300-million in the company.
Here's a look at what CPPIB saw in the company when it invested last fall, from an interview at that time with Mark Wiseman, who was then the CPPIB executive in charge of buyouts and private investments. (He has since been promoted to head of investments.)
Why shift away from what CPPIB has been doing, such as infrastructure investments, to what is essentially a late stage venture capital play?
"It's all about doing transactions that we believe are going to reward us appropriately for the risk we are taking," Mr. Wiseman said at the time. "Certainly, buying an Internet-based company is very different from buying a water company, but they all have their place."
In Skype, the buyers got what Mr. Wiseman called a "disruptive technology" that then accounted for about 8 per cent of all international long-distance traffic.
"This is not your typical 1999-2000 dot-com deal," Mr. Wiseman said. "This is an established brand with somewhere close to half a billion users globally. It's one of the foremost names on the Internet and the foremost name in online communications, with real cash flows and very real earnings.
"We think that with this investor group, focused solely on this business, we are going to be able to really supercharge the growth in this business over the next several years," Mr. Wiseman said.
Still, he didn't have a lot of specifics.
"I don't think we even know what it's going to do," he said. "I don't think Alexander Graham Bell even knew what the telephone was going to do when he invented it. But we do know it's absolutely going to change the way people communicate and for people that own that technology, it's going to be a good thing."
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