Microsoft has gotten off easy with its proposal to acquire Skype, the FTC has already approved the deal, meaning that it will be able to move forward and close the deal soon. Ahead of that though, it seems that Skype has already started doing some housekeeping and has fired several top executives to get ready for the Microsoft integration.
Doing a bit of restructuring ahead of an acquisition is not exactly unheard of, but there seem to be some ulterior motives, at least that's one of the proposed theories, as execs fired ahead of the acquisition get less for their stock options.
Skype will be Microsoft's largest acquisition to date and the fact that it didn't get any extended scrutiny and that the government regulators approved so quickly after being announced is a sign perhaps of the changing tides.
Not too many years ago, any such deal from Microsoft would have gotten a much thorough investigation, but it seems that the company has traded places with Google which regularly gets months-long reviews of proposed acquisitions, even ones significantly smaller than Microsoft's.
But firing eight top execs ahead of what looks to be a complex integration process doesn't seem like the best long-term strategy. Sure, the company gets to save several millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars by not paying unvested options at the acquisition price.
But it may have needed some of those people, some of whom have been with the company for half a decade, to ensure that Microsoft is able to absorb Skype.
Current CEO Tony Bates will continue to lead Skype in what will become a stand-alone unit at Microsoft. Up to eight execs haven't been so lucky and have been fired or are in the process of being let go, according to sources with inside knowledge.