Skype Offers Community-Edited Business Listings

Skype has introduced a “community-generated guide” to businesses in which Skype users can rate, review and suggest companies. In a beta test begun three weeks ago, more than 4,500 businesses from more than 124 countries have been listed on the site, and Skype says it expects more than a million listings by the end of 2007.

The Ebay-owned and Luxembourg-based Internet communication company is considering selling advertising on its new service, called SkypeFind, but says it’s too early to discuss details.

Skype North America’s director of communication, Jennifer Caukin, said the currently ad-free SkypeFind is not ignoring the revenue opportunities presented by such a heavily used site. “At this point, there isn’t any (ad-driven) revenue generation,” Caukin told ClickZ. “Over time, we anticipate that traffic will build and we may add non-intrusive monetization options within SkypeFind.”

Caukin said SkypeFind will be searchable by location and keyword. That means Skype users visiting a new city can use the service to get recommendations from local Skype members about area businesses.

“The Skype community is active,” she said. “They’re used to calling from their computers. These people are online, so if they are using some other local search or yellow pages-type service online, the whole idea of connecting to those listings is very natural to them. Bringing the idea of a community- edited collection of businesses to our own software makes lot of sense just because we have such a wide scale of users globally who are passionate about using Skype.”

Skype users communicate with each other for free through the Skype client software installed in their computers. SkypeFind is part of the latest version of that software, Skype 3.1 for Windows, which also includes a new service called Skype Prime in which users can “share knowledge with one another” and make money doing it.

“Currently in its beta test phase, Skype Prime is reliant on how people and small businesses sell and share their expertise and knowledge on Skype,” said a Skype statement. “User feedback has always been a fundamental part of how Skype has evolved as a product and equally, a part of its popularity.

Giving millions of people and small businesses the opportunity to charge for their expertise, Skype Prime is a new direction for the company.”

It will also be a new source of revenue. The company said Skype Prime experts determine their own fees, which is collected via PayPal. Skype takes a 30 percent cut of the money.

Skype claims more than 171 million users worldwide.

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