Bill Gates: I pushed to buy Skype

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates speaks Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at a breakfast hosted by Climate Solutions in Seattle. Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates speaks Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at a breakfast hosted by Climate Solutions in Seattle.
Associated Press

He may be devoting most of his time to his myriad charitable endeavors but don't think for a minute that Bill Gates has stepped back from tending to the company he co-founded. In an interview that will air on the BBC, Gates, still Microsoft's chairman as well as a company board member, says that he pushed for a takeover of Skype.

"I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done," Gates told the BBC's Hardtalk program.

"I think it's a great, great deal for Skype," he added. "I think it's a great deal for Microsoft."

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would pay $8.5 million to buy Skype, the most it ever ever spent on an acquisition. In the interview, which will be broadcast on Wednesday, Gates suggested that future Microsoft technologies would complement Skype, which despite its 663 million users, has been hard-pressed to generate profit. (Skype lost an estimated $7 million last year.)

Microsoft wins Skype in game of keepaway

"The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today. Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue," he says in the interview. "It'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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