Recent revelations from Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker now granted asylum in Russia, have also shone a light on Skype’s new willingness to help law enforcement. Snowden revealed, for instance, that in February 2011 eBay opened up the “spy-proof” Skype to US intelligence agencies. In order to clear up the technological and legal nuances of snooping, a secret project called Chess was conducted in Skype—a scheme only a few people in the company were aware of. That cooperation has apparently extended to Microsoft. Taking all of this into consideration, it is no wonder many of the employees of the original Skype consider the company’s upcoming tenth birthday its funeral. I call Steve Jurvetson on the other side of the Atlantic. He struggles for half an hour but cannot get Skype to work. I call his mobile. “Did Microsoft mess Skype up?” I ask him. “I wouldn’t be surprised, Microsoft has messed up almost everything,” he replies.
The story of Skype, including hints of trouble ahead as an independent company ends up as part of a mega-corporation.