Friday, November 20, 2009


This week's perspective from Ed Lee:

News this week that eBay, the online auction site, had sold the Web phone call company, Skype, back to its founders also uncovered a cautionary tale in online privacy. During the protracted sale process, Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, now running the online TV venture Joost, found themselves bidding against a consortium of venture capital funds, led by Index Ventures for their creation. Nothing new in that but the lead VC firm was proposing former Cisco executive Mike Volpi as the chairman and CEO of Skype, should they be successful in their acquisition. So what’s the problem? That Mike Volpi was the acting CEO of Joost – in effect, bidding for his potential employers against his existing employers! We can’t comment on the legal play but what we can call out is the communications fumble of Volpi using his work email address to conduct negotiations with Index Ventures and providing critical intelligence and unbounded criticism against his employers. As both communicators and consumers, we get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to using email, thinking it is secure and that only the recipient can read it but in truth, email is far more like a postcard than a sealed letter. Almost anyone can read your email if they really want to. So what does this tell us? Never use your work email for anything other than work and always think about how your emails will seem if they are uncovered and published (with or without context) or used in court filings, as they are now.

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