The Roman emperor Caligula reputedly made his horse a priest or senator, Newcastle United Football Club saw the wisdom of winning the contract of Joey Barton, and more than one person has thought 'I know, let's hire Janet Street-Porter'. So, with crazy decision making seemingly elemental to the human condition, it should probably have surprised anybody when eBay announced it was acquiring Skype for $2.6bn in 2005 -- nor that it should follow just four years later that it is now selling on that asset.
Uncharacteristically, eBay CEO Meg Whitman seemed only to have foggy notion about what she would do with Skype, in the way you should feel when you have the world's largest online auctioneer, you're US-based and fabulously money-making and you're buying an IP voice service that isn't American or fabulously money making. Whitman should have looked at Skype the way that a cat observes a squirrel: with a modicum of respect and curiosity before walking away. Instead, her decision to buy on spec led to a cross-breeding of two entirely different species and never threatened to come up with any wondrous new progeny.
I've written before about the dire history of tech firms with lots of money and a desperation to be M&A masters of the universe, trying to make one plus one total three and only ending up with 0.6. This is another example for the pile and the only positive thing that you can say is that the oh-so predictable loss is not as big as eBay's duff decision merited.