Skype needed to change from bright young start-up to mature company to attract capital and talent. We helped them understand their role, their product and their communications, leading to an $8.6bn sale to Microsoft.

Skype were a rare kind of business when we met them in 2009 – they had 100 million users but were yet to turn a profit. They were a phenomenon, founded on an amazing product, and growing fast. They needed to get ready for a possible IPO in a way that preserved their spirit.

Their ever-widening range of products and features posed a challenge. They needed to make sense of the offer, in a way that would guide activity internally and drive revenue by helping users navigate beyond free video calls.

Up until now, Skype had viewed their role as ‘enabling the world’s conversations’. We saw a broader benefit: ‘doing things together, whenever you’re apart’. We developed a set of principles to guide product development and marketing activity: ‘Universal, Useful, Wonderful’.

By now Skype had a powerful, central idea and we were their trusted creative partner. We built a brand workbook and website, helped simplify the portfolio, and structured innovation for immediate results.

We didn’t just change the expression. We affected the way engineers built the product and the way sales charged for it. We also led the re-organization of Skype’s marketing function, establishing a clear and compelling role for this department in a previously product-focussed business. We even acted as Skype’s CMO for 6 months.

New hires were trained up quickly and growth continued. Over the duration of the project, Skype doubled their monthly active users, while also seeing a large increase in the activity of existing users

Shortly after our partnership, Microsoft bought the company for $8.6bn. We continued our partnership long after this sale, which you can read about in the Microsoft case study.

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