Techin5 Developer Interview – Skype

Techin5 Developer Interview – Skype

The Techin5 Developer Interview segment is back, and we’ve got a big interview for you folks today! As we’ve done 3 interviews in 2012 already, we’re going to slow it down after this segment and give our gracious developers a chance to catch their breaths. Rest assured, there will be more Developer Interview’s as 2012 progresses so as usual, keep checking Techin5 because you never know what you might expect. Furthermore, if there are certain Dev Interview’s you would like to see done on Techin5, feel free to let us know in the comments below and we might ask for one!

Our 6th Developer Interview is actually one of our biggest yet – Skype! From within Skype, Rick Osterloh has taken the time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions for which we are grateful. Rick is actually the Vice-President of Product & Design of the Skype division of Microsoft, and therefore is certain to know the in and out’s of Skype. He also has dipped his toes in various different companies such as Motorola, Good Technology, and others; so he’s a very established person to be at Skype! We take Rick through a series of questions about it’s future and how Skype see’s itself in the current market. We also briefly dip into how Skype is doing after the Microsoft acquisition. As always, it’s interesting to see how such a large company such as Skype operates. While he’s unable to tell us all (due to company policies), we do get some interesting tidbits from him!

So, interested in what Rick Osterloh has to say about Skype? Read on to find out!

Techin5 Developer Interview – Skype

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role at Skype

Rick Osterloh, Vice-President of Product & Design of the Skype division of Microsoft.

As Vice-President of Product & Design of the Skype division at Microsoft, I lead the design, strategy and development of products that millions of people globally use to connect with friends, family and colleagues.

Prior to Skype, I was Corporate Vice President of the MOTOBLUR and Android Platform software groups for Motorola. I led Motorola Mobile Devices’ Android strategy, was responsible for creating MOTOBLUR, a social aggregation and messaging service, and shipped Motorola’s first Android smartphone. I also managed a 750-person software and services engineering team located in five countries. In this role, I was responsible for the delivery of Motorola’s software and operation of the MOTOBLUR service for Motorola.

My industry experience includes work as Vice President of Products for Good Technology, a leader in enterprise wireless handheld computing software and services that was acquired by Motorola in 2007. I was responsible for Good’s global product offering, product strategy, and product development. Prior to Good Technology, I managed enterprise software projects for Fortune 1000 companies at Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group, worked in product management at Amazon.com, and analyzed wireless industry investments for Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.

I earned a BS and MS Engineering from Stanford University, and was an Arjay Miller scholar at Stanford Graduate School of Business where I received an MBA.

Impressive CV! What do you think has made Skype so popular around the world, on computers and mobile devices?

There are several reasons why I believe Skype has become so popular around the world; the two factors that are top of mind are Skype’s cross-platform capabilities and its overall affordability.  Skype is available on computers, mobile phones, home phones, televisions, Blu-ray players and more, making it easier than ever to connect with loved ones across the globe.  Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls, as well as instant messaging, are free, making the services accessible to everyone with internet access.  Additionally, Skype also offers low-cost calls to landlines and mobile phones worldwide, making it an attractive option for those who have loved ones abroad.

How has Microsoft purchasing Skype affected the development process of Skype?

The Microsoft-Skype partnership has been positive thus far.  Skype is a pioneer in creating rich, meaningful connections among friends, families and business colleagues globally and Microsoft has a long-standing focus and investment in real-time communications across its various platforms. The acquisition will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities. It will also extend Skype’s world-class brand and the reach of its networked platform, while enhancing Microsoft’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services.

That’s good to know. Moving on to mobile, currently Skype exists prominently on 4 major Operating Systems. When will Skype make its way to the Windows Phone Platform?

Microsoft plans to continue investing in and supporting Skype’s cross platform strategy. While we don’t have any specific timelines to share at this time, we have stated that Skype will be available on Microsoft Windows Phone devices soon.

Is it true Skype will be integrated in the Windows Phone Operating System like it currently is on Android? If so, when will this be?

We don’t have any specifics to share at this time.

Roughly, how many people around the world currently use Skype?

Skype had more than 200 million average monthly connected users for the three months ending 31 December 2011. This excludes connected users via our joint venture partners. Even more, at peak times, approximately 31 million concurrent users are logged into Skype at any given time. It is used on every continent around the world.

Group chat just recently made its way to Skype and it’s a great feature. What other major features can we expect from Skype in 2012?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide specifics on our product roadmap at this time.

Can we expect Group Video Chat to come to mobile’s and/or tablet’s anytime soon?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide specifics on our product roadmap at this time.

Right let’s move away from future projects. What does Skype do to compete with similar apps and programs out there that have the same function as Skype?

While other apps may do great things, Skype has a clear focus on communications.  Skype has sustained a long and successful history in enabling hundreds of millions of people to connect around the world and we look forward to working with the Microsoft team to continue this mission — anytime, anywhere.

What would you say to prospective employees looking to join Skype in the development (or other) departments?

We’re global thinkers with offices in Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Palo Alto, Prague, Singapore, Stockholm, Tallinn, Tartu and Tokyo. Our wonderful offices are relaxed, funky, innovative and dog friendly – we’re more like family around here. A super productive bunch, we are performance driven and dedicated to unleashing wonder!  Our passion at Skype lies in engineering incredible products and sharing them with the world. So whether you’re an engineer who lives to write great code, an awesome product manager or a marketing guru, Skype has something exciting for you.

Great! Finally, do you have any final words that you’d like to share about Skype?

Skype is about breaking down the barriers to communication and we’re doing it with technology that is inventive, dependable, easy to use and affordable. We’re passionate about impacting the world and even more excited to be part of a new generation of brands that are revolutionizing the 21st Century. Everyday Skype enables hundreds of millions of people to be together, even when they’re apart.

Thanks you for your time Rick, it’s much appreciated.

 Special Thanks to Cassie, and Andy for their assistance!


Founder and Chief Editor of Techin5, currently based in Melbourne Australia. Has always had a deep appreciation of Technology and how it helps people, which led to the birth of Techin5. You can follow me on Twitter at @jubbing and on Instagram
  • http://unitedtechguys.com/ Brad Merrill

    Good read!

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Thanks Brad, glad you enjoyed it!