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April 01, 2010 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-04-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Face
Face

Ann Arbor native Josh Silverman
helps to reinvent communication
around the world as the CEO of Skype.

BY ALICE BURDICK SCHWEIGER

Skype CEO Josh Silverman

currently lives with his fam-

ily in London, England, close

to Skype headquarters in

Luxembourg.

Right:

Oprah

Winfrey interviews Josh

Silverman over Skype on her

talk show.

P 1 4 •

APRIL 2010 •

.1N platinum

Do you talk to your out-of-town loved
ones over Skype? The term for the soft-
ware application that allows you to con-
nect over the Internet for free and see
one another via the computer's built-in or
auxiliary camera has more than one-half
billion users worldwide. That's thanks, in
part, to the company's CEO: Ann Arbor
native Josh Silverman. Skype, has grown
exponentially since he took the helm
nearly two years ago. From TV shows to
businesses to people's homes in more than
100 countries, Skype has become a staple.
"The growth is really exploding," says
Silverman, who oversees the company's
direction and strategy and manages day-
to-day operations. "We are adding more
than 300,000 registered users each day."
Silverman is proud that Skype,
founded in 2003, has become an impor-
tant source of entertainment. Skype's
live two-way videos are seen regularly on
the Oprah Winfrey Show. Celebrities and
other guests appear via the live feed, sav-
ing Oprah's production company the cost
of flying them to Chicago or sending a
remote crew to their homes.
Residing in London, England,
close to the company's headquarters in
Luxembourg, Silverman was on Oprah
via Skype himself in
2009, talking about his
product. "I didn't get
to meet her in person
because we live an
ocean away, but we are
thrilled that she is such
a fan," he says. "When
I was on her show, we
didn't do a rehearsal; it
was all adlibbed. She is
a real pro."
Oprah isn't the only program utilizing
Skype. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,
the syndicated daytime game show
seen weekdays and hosted by Meredith
Vieira, also has teamed up with Skype.
Contestants are able to "ask an expert's
advice" on any question beyond the $1,000
level. The experts, who include writers,
actors, former contestants and professors,
appear face-to-face on a video call.
Skype has also reached primetime
TV. "Because of the enormous strides we
have made in the quality of the video, it
is often used in broadcasting interviews,"
says Silverman. "Fox News and CNN use
it for reporting in the field."
When Silverman, 40, was growing up
in Ann Arbor, he had no idea his path

would lead to redefining communication
around the world. After his graduation
from Community High School in 1987,
he went on to earn a bachelor's degree
at Brown University in New York. He
wanted to have a positive impact on the
world and thought government would be
a great avenue to do so. He soon landed
a job working for Bill Bradley, the former
Democratic senator from New Jersey.
"I was a legislative aide in Washington,
D.C., and worked with health, educa-
tion and welfare issues. It was a fun and
rewarding experience," says Silverman.
"At that time, my roommate was a senior
staffer for [Bill] Clinton's first presidential
campaign, before Clinton was a leading
candidate and had Secret Service protec-
tion. They needed a four-door American
automobile to drive Clinton to events,
so they used mine and wound up escort-
ing Clinton around town in my mom's
Oldsmobile Cutlass."
After a few years in D.C., Silverman
relocated to San Francisco. "The chief
of staff for Bill Bradley called me in one
day and said he was going to California
to work on health care; he asked me to
come along," says Silverman. "So I start-
ed working in a management position for

the strategy and technology consulting
firm Booz Allen Hamilton."
While in California, Silverman
decided to further his education. He
attended graduate school at Stanford,
where he earned an MBA in 1998. His
first endeavor out of school was highly
successful: Silverman co-founded and
became the CEO of Evite, the leading
social event-planning site on the Web. "I
wanted to utilize technology and bring
people together," he says. "This is really
what I am doing at Skype."
Making his mark in the dotcom world,
Silverman — who sold Evite to enter-
tainment mogul Barry Diller — landed
a succession of high-level jobs. "One of
the investors in Evite was an employee
of eBay when it was just getting off the

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