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Microsoft’s incredible $8.5 billion buyout of Skype earlier this year took many by surprise. The amount of money was astronomical, especially for a product that is, for the most part, totally free to use. But it was a testament to how Skype has burrowed itself into the fabric of our society, connecting friends, family, and relatives to one another no matter the geographic distance between them. It has become a household name, its very own verb, like Google or Facebook before it. But, of course, it wasn’t always this way, and many don’t know that Skype has had a long and difficult life, from the moment of its birth up to the present moment. It’s an incredible business story, to be sure- but it’s also a human story of rise and fall, and of great obstacles overcome.

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