There are rumors in the tech industry in China that Microsoft-owned Skype and its China partner, TOM (HKG:2383), have already effectively ended their relationship after not renewing their partnership. Marbridge Daily has a good account of the rumors that it sourced from local news portal Tencent Tech, saying that the working agreement ended last year and that TOM is now running its TOM-Skype service out-of-contract and on a skeleton staff after reportedly firing a great number of staffers thought to be involved in the joint-venture.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft China, and will update if we find someone who can comment.
When Tencent Tech called Wang Zhiyong, Tom Online’s employee in charge of Skype operations, Wang said he was away on business, adding that as Microsoft keeps a tight rein on discussions, he was unable to comment. Li Xiuli, Tom Online’s marketing director for online value-added services, said she had not been informed about the matter. […]
When speaking to several former Tom employees who recently left the company, Tencent Tech was told that the company has begun “transformative” layoffs of employees working on Skype, gaming, and the original online literature site Huangjian Shumeng, among other services. Layoffs have affected more than 100 people so far, with Skype employees accounting for such a large proportion of laid-off individuals that technical staff are reportedly almost all gone.
Word is that TOM Group execs are not seeing eye-to-eye with Skype over the China business, with Tom CEO Yang Guomeng thought to be in favor of dispensing with Skype altogether.
In addition to its Skype partnership, TOM Group runs news portals, online videos, and e-commerce sites, among other things. Its TOM-Skype partnership made worldwide headlines in 2008 when it was exposed how TOM was using keyword surveillance to censor some political or frowned-upon words, such as any references to Tibet during the racially-motivated unrest and violence in the region that was going on at that time.
[Source: Marbridge Daily]
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