Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Genius of Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava wrote his PhD thesis about folding structures. In his later work, parts of his buildings have featured moving elements, such as the Milwaukee Art Museum's folding wings.

None of these elements have been as useful as the shades at the law library in Zurich.

While Zurich certainly isn't New York, where no work can get done in August, it can get fairly hot and sunny in the summer. If your building does not have air conditioning - new buildings in Zurich have restrictions on the amount of power used for AC per square meter - and has a big glass cupola, things can get uncomfortably hot.

Except if you have shades you can fold out to block the sun, which is exactly what Calatrava installed.

They work pretty well, although I still believe that many students, deep in their hearts, would prefer air conditioning.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

$5 Billion for Skype?

There have been rumors about X wanting to buy Skype, where X can be either eBay, Google or Rupert Murdoch. The numbers mentioned were in the range of $2 billion to $5 billion.

But is Skype really worth that much?

A quick look into a business and ecomonics book will yield that there are two ways of judging a company's value: You can look at the substance value or the sum of expected earnings.

The latter is easiest: Skype claims to have 53 million users. They would need to make just about $100 off of each user to yield 5 billions. But let's say that their userbase grows ten-fold: Still, $10 must come from each and every user. Not impossible, but hard to imagine, given that their core product is free.

The other way to look at Skype's value is by calculating how much would need to be spent on re-building it from scratch. If you spent $100 million on development (which seems excessive even for a bunch of very talented CS engineers), and $500 million on marketing (that's how much it costs to establish a new global brand), you end up at around $600 million. A far shot from the $5 billion that eBay is offering.

Dear Niklas and Janus, I think you should accept. It's hard to imagine getting a better deal, especially with competitors quickly catching up. I might add that I haven't seen a significant product improvement lately - animated emoticons don't do it for me.