Tag Archives: Internet Browser

More Proof that Facebook Might Buy Opera

Opera-SoftwareLast week, Pocket Lint broke the story that Facebook might be looking to acquire Opera. Initially, I was pretty dismissive of the report. While, the deal did make sense for Facebook, I wasn’t sure it was something that Opera really needed. In fact, Opera’s co-founder and ex-CEO Jon von Tetzchner’s comments echoed as much. “I want Opera to focus on growth and delivering good results; there are big opportunities for Opera,” Tetzchner, who holds 10.9 percent of Opera, told Reuters. “We have been promised 500 million users by 2013, and I think that’s a good goal and the firm should keep going for it.” He added, “I personally think that an ARPU (average revenue per user) goal of $1 is even modest. I am not pushing for a takeover.”

However, Pocket Lint’s initial report has since been backed up by Robin Wauters who is typically well sourced in browser related matters. Not only that, bankers told Reuters that Opera had “long been up for sale informally”. Now, I find this bit of information particularly interesting because of one reason. Tetzchner quit Opera last year. His departing email read, “It has become clear that The Board, Management and I do not share the same values and we do not have the same opinions on how to keep evolving Opera”. My theory is that it is quite possible that Jon’s disagreement with the board was over their plans on pushing for a takeover by a larger entity. Tetzchner always regarded Opera as his baby, and insisted on staying independent and retaining a core set of values that defined Opera Software. It’s hard to think that he would have found proposals of selling out agreeable.

While all of the above is conjecture on my part, there is one bit of information that Vygantas has dug out, which strongly hints that something is up at Opera software. As you might already know, a significant portion of Opera’s revenues come from its search agreement with Google. Opera ships with Google as the default search engine, and in return, Google shares a chunk of revenue it generates from the traffic coming from Opera. Earlier today, Opera Software announced that it is extending its existing agreement with Google for a month. This move is extremely unusual, as typically such renewals are for a year or several years. I don’t remember Opera ever renewing its agreement for such a short period. While it is entirely possible that the renewal is simply a temporary measure to give the two companies some time to thrash out a new deal, it is also possible that Opera expects something big to happen in the next one month. You know, like being acquired by Facebook.

There is still no concrete proof that anything is really going on. But, over the past week, we have seen multiple sources claim that something might be up. In my opinion, the deal does make sense for Facebook. It will allow it to both gain eyeballs in the mobile segment, and also better monetize it. However, I am not convinced that it’s in Opera’s best interests to allow itself to be gobbled up by folks for whom browser is not really a priority. Facebook might increase Opera’s reach, but it might also stagnate Opera’s development, hamper its innovative edge, and tarnish its reputation and trust.

Rumor: Facebook Looking to Buy Opera Software

Opera-SoftwareFacebook might be eyeing Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, if a report from Pocket Lint is to be believed. According to its “man in the know”, Facebook might be preparing to step into the browser market, in order to ensure that no matter what you are doing, you are always connected to your Facebook social graph.

If true, it’s going to be another stunning move by Zuckerberg. Opera currently boasts of more than 200 million users, with a very strong presence in the mobile arena. For many in the developing world, Opera Mini is the only means of surfing the internet. It also has strong relationship with leading handset makers and carriers. Facebook can certainly help Opera in expanding its audience, and Opera can embed Facebook into its user’s life. Opera also has a strong presence in the mobile phone and smart TV market that Facebook will find valuable.

That being said, acquiring a company like Opera is different from acquiring a start-up like Instagram. Opera has dozens of offices with hundreds of employees spread across the globe. Developing browsers is complicated stuff, and Opera has had to really fight it out to survive through multiple browser wars. Facebook and Opera have very little in common in terms of their products. In fact, they even have distinctly different cultures and company ethos. From where I am sitting, this certainly doesn’t look like a marriage made in heaven.

A couple of years back, when Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner was at the helm, I could have confidently said that Opera would never sell out. With the new management, I can’t be so sure. However, even then, it’s extremely hard to fathom that Opera will allow itself to come under Facebook’s umbrella. What might happen though is that Facebook and Opera might enter into a partnership. We have already seen Opera develop customized browsers for the likes of Nintendo. It might create and maintain a Rockmelt like browser with tight Facebook integration, in return for eyeballs and revenue from the social networking giant. But, in the recent past, Opera has been focussing on a more streamlined approach with less customized solutions.

When asked for a response, Opera declined to comment citing its standard policy of not reacting to market rumors.