Did Microsoft overpay for Skype? Hell yes — by $4.5 billion

With Microsoft having confirmed its acquisition of Skype, sources tell TechCrunch Europe that Redmond outbid its closest rival, Google, by almost two-to-one. Meanwhile, Facebook is said to have never been in the running.

According to a source who claims knowledge of talks held between all parties, Google came in second at a price of $4B, while Microsoft will be paying $8.5B. This suggests that Redmond is paying significantly over the odds for Skype, although only time will tell if it turns out to be a smart deal. What is known is that had Microsoft been aware of the price that Google was willing to pay it almost certainly would have come in lower.

Meanwhile, according to our sources, Facebook was never actually in the running to buy Skype and may have simply been inadvertently used to turn up the heat on Microsoft to push through a deal. Facebook was never approached, says one source, but that this didn’t stop rumors that the social networking site was “sniffing around”, a tactic often employed to close a deal.

The potential give-away is that the story circulating at the time put the emphasis on Facebook mulling an offer rather than Skype reaching out. Had the rumor been stronger, along the lines of “Skype is in talks with Facebook”, it could have caused a problem as the Microsoft discussions were far enough down the line, says our source, that Skype would have certainly have entered into a lockout, having accepted a deal in principal.

In fact, GigaOm’s Om Malik goes even further, suggesting that Google wasn’t that serious either. “I also don’t believe that Facebook and Google were serious buyers”, he says, citing the existence of Google Voice. “In essence, I feel that Microsoft was bidding against itself.”