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#1 Pallab

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 19:56

Opera Software’s co-founder and ex-CEO, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, has finally broken his silence. Speaking to ComputerWorld, Tetzchner revealed his disappointment at both the direction Opera Software is taking and how it is being managed.
Tetzchner co-founded Opera with Geir Ivarsøy in 1995, and was the Chief Operating Officer until he stepped down on January 5, 2010. He continued to be associated with the company as strategic advisor, but parted ways on June 24, 2011. In his departure mail, he wrote, “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”.
Posted ImageTetzchner was widely regarded as a man of ideals, and the person responsible for establishing Opera’s work culture and corporate values. He believed in the open web, hated software patents, and believed in caring for his employees. He was reported to be in favor of aggressively fighting to keep Opera Software independent and uncompromised. Unfortunately, the board and the shareholders didn’t always agree with him. Since his departure, Opera has streamlined itself on numerous occasions, sometimes shutting down entire offices. Opera has also invested more heavily in the advertising business. And most recently, Opera decided to ditch its rendering engine in favor of Chromium. His departure has led to a steady stream of rumors that Opera Software might be about to be acquired. The fact that he sold off a large chunk of his shares in the company for between 180 and 200 million NOK (about 32-35 million USD) over the past few months has only strengthened the rumors.
Under Lars Boilesen, Opera has made record profits, grown its mobile user base at a phenomenal pace, and expanded into new segments. However, under Boilesen, Opera has also lost its innovative edge. According to reports, Opera Software has also lost a lot of its atmosphere and culture. Wilhelm JoysAndersen, who used to manage Opera’s core testing team before quitting last year alleged in a post on Hacker News that employee morale is at rock bottom. No wonder then that Tetzchner remarked, “I must admit that I think it’s sad to see what happens with Opera”.
Addressing the reports of mistreatment of employees, Tetzchner went on to say, “Not only do I disagree with the strategic direction management is taking now, but I’m also sad about how the company is treating its employees”. “There must be good reasons to let people go. I think an atmosphere where so many must go, or stop more or less voluntarily, is unfortunate for both innovation and employees. This is very far from what I stood for. The employees are a vital resource and has been critical of the company has achieved.”
He also addressed the lack of innovation. “When competition increases, I believe one must increase his efforts, not reduce it”. As I noted in my previous article, since Tetzchner’s resignation, many influential and well-known developers have left the company to work for Google and Mozilla among others. Opera’s ex-CEO believes that a reduced focus on product innovation and core technologies is pushing talent out of Opera.
When asked if he misses being a part of the Opera management, Tetzchner candidly said, ” I miss Opera as a company and I miss the staff. But the direction the company now runs did not fit me”. Expanding on what he wrote in his parting email, he revealed a longstanding discord between shareholders and sections of the management including him. Tetzchner preferred to build the company stone by stone to achieve organic growth. Whereas shareholders preferred to prep the company for sale through acquisitions and cost reductions.
Note: Original Norwegian quotes have been translated with the aid of Google Translate.



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#2 vetLOC

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 00:45

Wait, Opera is going to be using Chromium? Ugh, why? Presto is awesome as it is, why ditch it at this point?

#3 ViperAFK

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:13

Wait, Opera is going to be using Chromium? Ugh, why? Presto is awesome as it is, why ditch it at this point?


site compatability. presto is/was a good standards complaint rendering engine, but there's too many sites that make heavy use of prefixes and/or browser sniffing.

#4 Growled

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:17

He should have stayed and fought for what he believed in, instead of leaving.

Under Lars Boilesen, Opera has made record profits, grown its mobile user base at a phenomenal pace, and expanded into new segments. However, under Boilesen, Opera has also lost its innovative edge.


That's sad to hear. They had so many firsts in the browser world.

#5 nub

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:22

Was he CEO or COO?

#6 Jose_49

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:36

It is sad to see this. So this ditching wasn't something that happened from the night to the morning. :/

I have used Opera since version 9 as a secondary browser. Transitioned to it, from Firefox on Version 11, when they introduced extensions (Couldn't live without an ad block and SearchPreview)

Never looked back, except when it crashed, and went back to Firefox (Now I have Palemoon installed).

Opera is so awesome in many ways. People only see the tip of the iceberg:

- Multiurl Link Parsing -> You can drag and drop a series of URL to the tab bar and Opera would open each one of them in individual tabs.
- Chat accounts
- Opera Link (The first guys to put the true cloud experience)
- Panels.
- The best base download manager from any browser until this day.
- Thumbnail tabs
- Mouse Gestures
- Tab Cycling
- Tab Stacking
- Easy Zoom In/Out web pages
- The best browser's speed Dial out there
- An easy and powerful Credentials manager.
- Bit-torrent client.
- Opera's Dragonfly, better than any native web inspector out there.

Seeing it going to Chromium is not a good move. Although, Presto wasn't my all time's favorite because it would break some pages (Mostly JavaScript related), it was the fastest until a couple of years ago. I only think that Presto needs a good refinement plus the native hardware acceleration they've talked about.

I don't know how will this affect the development, but I just don't want to see Opera as another browser.

Thanks God Mozilla will keep its Gecko engine, just in case.

#7 OP Pallab

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 13:31

He should have stayed and fought for what he believed in, instead of leaving.



That's sad to hear. They had so many firsts in the browser world.

He was probably made to resign as CEO by the board, given Opera's poor financial performance back then.
And once he was no longer the CEO, he probably didnt want to sit around and helplessly watch the company go in a direction he didnt want/ create stalemate.

#8 HawkMan

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 13:42

site compatability. presto is/was a good standards complaint rendering engine, but there's too many sites that make heavy use of prefixes and/or browser sniffing.


that's the PR reason, the real reason is that they can optimize the company, fire a whole lot of people ditch everything to do with innovation and creating new stuff, and make the company more lucrative for potential buyout.

This is why Tetzchner quit, under him the prime focus was to take good care of your employees and foster an environment of innovation.

since he left due to changes from the Board, they have fired lots of people killed many departments killed most any innovation and generally killed everything Opera as a company used to stand for. basically their shaping Opera the company into a product to be sold for the most profit.

#9 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 13:38

I'm not a fan of Opera, but IMO, going from three rendering engines to two cannot even remotely be a good idea.

#10 Javik

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 13:50

There's still gecko :p it's going from 4 to 3

#11 togermano

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 13:52

Opera one of the few browsers that still plays nice with windows 9x

#12 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 13:53

There's still gecko :p it's going from 4 to 3


I forgot about that one!

Still, the point stands, less choice is bad for the consumer.

#13 ViperAFK

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 14:53

I'm not a fan of Opera, but IMO, going from three rendering engines to two cannot even remotely be a good idea.


well there's still three major rendering engines, gecko, trident, webkit

#14 Som

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 15:36

Wait, Opera is going to be using Chromium? Ugh, why? Presto is awesome as it is, why ditch it at this point?


I've used opera since 2000 and i've been coming more and more frustrated about how many sites don't work well with it. I get that it's not their fault but it'll be great to have the compatibility of chrome and the features of opera....

#15 ViperAFK

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 15:44

I've used opera since 2000 and i've been coming more and more frustrated about how many sites don't work well with it. I get that it's not their fault but it'll be great to have the compatibility of chrome and the features of opera....


I'd use it if they make sure to bring over opera's awesome smooth scrolling, thats currently the main reason I don't use chrome. Chrome's scrolling is just awful, awful. With the smooth scrolling flag enabled its better, but for some reason doesn't work for a lot of sites (often sites with fixed images and such still scroll in steps), and the middle click universal scroll doesn't have smooth scrolling at all. This is a pretty basic feature to be lacking in 2013, firefox, opera, and IE has had good smooth scrolling for quite some time now (I prefer firefox's ATM). If opera makes sure to add features to differentiate itself this new version could be good, but there is the danger of them becoming a crappy generic chrome clone :(