April 11, 2006 9:13 AM PDT

Skype to buy voice start-up Sonorit

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eBay's Skype unit said Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire a San Francisco-based speech-processing start-up for roughly $27 million in stock.

eBay will issue 700,000 shares of stock to buy Sonorit and its subsidiary, Camino Networks. Skype said it bought the company for its engineering team, which should help Skype build new voice products for the future.

Luxembourg-based Skype, founded in 2002 by Scandinavian entrepreneurs, offers free computer-to-computer voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and low-cost connectivity between computer and landline or mobile phones. Skype was bought last year by eBay in a deal valued between $2.5 billion and $4 billion and has more than 70 million registered users.

"We're excited about bringing the talented Camino Networks team to Skype," Niklas Zennstrom, Skype's CEO and co-founder, said in a press release.

In recent months, Skype has tried attracting new users by introducing new products that appeal both to consumers and small businesses.

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