How One Swedish Startup Was Almost Acquired By Skype, Pre-Microsoft Deal

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Exclusive - Earlier this week, Microsoft dropped a bombshell on pretty much the entire technology industry, acquiring VoIP juggernaut Skype for a baffling $8.5 billion in cash.

One side-effect unrevealed up until today: TechCrunch has learned that Skype came extremely close to buying Swedish startup MyWidz right before negotiations with Microsoft were kicked into high gear, freezing said acquisition plans.

Multiple sources confirm that Skype wanted to buy MyWidz mainly for its team and core technology, which enables companies to develop and maintain mobile applications in the cloud, and that Skype had produced and delivered a term sheet as recently as February 2011.

Negotiations were ongoing though, we hear.

Apparently, MyWidz wanted to fetch a higher price as paying customers were just starting to trickle in, essentially proving its SaaS business model for creating, managing and sharing cross-platform mobile applications through a cloud-based system turned out to be solid.

I spoke to MyWidz CEO Jonas Löfgren this morning. While he wouldn’t confirm that Skype was engaged in late-stage talks with his startup for an outright acquisition, he said MyWidz was on to something big enough to continue pursuing as a stand-alone company anyway.

From what we’ve gathered, MyWidz isn’t the only player in the cloud-based mobile app management field Skype took a good look at, although we couldn’t confirm if terms sheets were delivered to any of those companies, apart from MyWidz.

For the Internet telephony giant, such an acquisition would bring in technology and experienced people to help manage its mobile application development and maintenance efforts. Skype offers apps for iPhone, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry handsets.

Now that Skype has been acquired by Microsoft, chances are that the company’s efforts will not be translated into actual acquisitions, although it’s entirely possible the plans will still be carried out, albeit with some delay, as they are of strategic importance to the company.

The company is, however, not exactly the most aggressive when it comes to M&A.

They once tried to buy VoIP startup Gizmo5, which Google ended up doing instead of them. They also took a close look at a number of Web-based video chat companies in the past, but none of that sniffing has turned into a deal thus far.

I asked Löfgren if he’d consider a buyout offer from Skype, or any other company that would be interested in the MyWidz business. “If the price is right,” he replied, sensibly.

Skype declined to comment on this story.