Opera Founder Leaves Opera, Board And Management To Blame

By | June 24, 2011 | 59 Comments


Opera Founder Leaves Opera, Board And Management To Blame

Oh boy, here we go.

Opera founder, Jon S. von Tetzchner, has sent a message to Opera employees, announcing his departure from the company.

According to the email, the Board and Management no longer share the same values and opinions as Jon and therefore, he resigns.

Dear All,

It is with a heavy heart that I send this message. Next week will be my last at Opera. 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. As a result I have come to an agreement with the Board to end my time at Opera. I feel the Board and Management is more quarterly focused than me. I have always worked to build the company for the future. I believe the foundation we have is very solid to build further upon.

I do believe strongly in Opera as a company, and in all of you working here. Our products actually make a difference for a lot of people in the world, and I wish you all the best of luck moving forward. I will be following the company closely and rooting for you all.

Yours truly,
Jon.

Although Jon has resigned from the CEO position back in 2010, he still worked as Opera’s strategic advisor.

Whether it’s for better or worse, remains to be seen.

Via: TechCrunch
Source: Opera Press

[Thanks, FForever]


About (Author Profile)


Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

  • Armin

    Nobody will have a field day with this…

    • Mahoaao

      Not if Jon was part of the problem.

      Jon did a good job creating a foundation, but many things were done wrong.

      New management and CEO meant changes to the way Opera was doing business, and now it’s growing faster than ever.

      Before Jon stepped down it was unclear where Opera was heading. When Lars took the CEO position they immediately started focusing on mobile operators, and the recent Capital Markets Day revealed Opera’s overall strategy. The Opera share jumped to the highest level ever after that.

      • http://www.pallab.net Pallab

        I follow Opera very closely, and one thing that made me fall in love with Opera in the first place is its spirit. I respect Opera’s ideals and values, and those are very important aspects of the company. I also have an immense amount of respect for Jon von Tetzchner. Lars made a few tough calls, fired lots of folks (closed India and Czech offices), concentrated on operator partnerships etc. and has brought in record revenues. However, if Opera looses its innovative edge, and its freewheeling spirit, then it will suffer in the long run. And that is the reason why I am sad to see Jon go. And that is why I am pissed with the board for forcing Jon’s hands.

        P.S. He said the board has become to commercial minded. I suspect this might have something to do with the lines that Opera is willing and not willing to cross when it comes to monetization (esp. Opera Mini).

        • Rogir

          “He said the board has become to commercial minded”

          He did not.

          The fact is that when Jon was CEO, Opera Mini was losing money for Opera. They were running into trouble because there were quarterly and yearly losses.

          Nothing is free. Opera Mini needs to make money. The new CEO and management came up with lots of ideas on how to do this, one of which was focusing a lot more on operators. That’s a win-win situation because Opera would be paid for each operator user, and they wouldn’t need to resort to spying or anything like that to make money.

          Other things they are doing to make money are also decidedly on-evil, such as still releasing products for free, not including ads or spyware, and make money on services like the new mobile store instead.

          Remember, Lars B. was hand-picked by Jon to take over as CEO. They share the same values, but Lars is more of a business man, and has a better idea about how the company can start making money.

          If anything, innovation has accelerated lately. Not necessarily in the browser product itself (although there is still innovation there), but in services built on and based on the browser product.

          Opera’s goal is to grow to 500 million users within a  few years. They won’t be able to do that by being evil, and the new CEO knows that. He was raised by Jon, after all.

          • http://www.pallab.net Pallab

            JvT wrote, “I feel the Board and Management is more quarterly focused than me”. I loosely translated that to mean that the board has become too commercial minded.
            I agree with you that Boilesen has helped rejuvenate Opera financially. Also, Opera for Desktop has made some fantastic moves, like adopting extensions. I don’t dislike him. The only thing is that, what compelled Jon to bid adieu to something that almost defined his entire life? That’s the thing that makes me uneasy. It seems the board and management wanted to do something that JvT couldn’t accept at any cost. 

          • Rogir

            That does not mean that the board has become too commercial minded. It means that they are more concerned about delivering good quarterly results right now than he is. Whether the new board and management will strike a good balance between short term results and long-term viability remains to be seen.

            But I don’t think it will matter, because I strongly believe that the real reason Jon left is that the board and management are willing to sell the company if the right buyer comes along. I don’t think Opera Software will exist anymore 12 months from now.

          • http://www.pallab.net Pallab

            That is a very very very good point. Getting acquired by someone else, no matter how lucrative the deal, is something that Jon will never consent to. He has made that amply clear in the past. I really really hope that you are wrong though. I also don’t want Opera to get acquired, no matter who the bidder is.

          • Nobody

            as for aquisition – jon might still block it, if he has enough voting shares in direct or indirect control. changing company ownership structure is a tedious process. in some cases it is easier to separate interesting parts from company by paper-deals, and leave empty-shell with old ownership structure.

            somebody knows how does opera share structure look? as a founder jon probably has huge voting power (if i were to guess – around 15% – but this is only a guess). 15% in most cases is enough to block major operations, because without public call and re-buy buyer cannot gather enough votes (smallest shareholders usualy do not vote, so their votes are wasted – 15% en-block is often biggest possible share without public call and re-buying of own shares)

            and yes, stubborn or stupid – history will tell, but jon would never had had his company sold. he had strong belief in what he was doing.

          • http://www.pallab.net Pallab

            And I believe that JvT still has lots of friends. I imagine people like Christen and Haikum (spelling?) will have somewhat significant amount of shares. 
            JvT is the public face of the company. If he publicly goes against the board, he might manage to get the shareholders riled up. However, I don’t think he will be willing to rip apart his darling. He would rather agree to the acquisition.

    • http://twitter.com/TiagoMorbusSa Tiago Sá

      Wow, you know there’s something wrong with you when you know some blog’s commenter by their nick and personality and you bother going “first!” just to flamebait him! -_-

      • Armin

        Nobody is notorious for his Opera odium. It’s not that difficult to remember a simply word like Nobody. Do you have difficulty with remembering his name and personality? In addition to that, I didn’t flamebait him. Every article about Opera is flamebait for Nobody. ;]

  • Mahoaao

    It’s interesting that Jon stepped down as CEO just as Opera changed its strategy and started bringing in the big cash.

    With Jon as CEO there were problems as OEMs were increasingly using other browsers. Then Lars B stepped in, they focused more on operators, and now Opera has signed just about all major operators in the world, and the business is growing faster than ever.

    Opera’s been doing more and more services as well, and got into advertising.Sounds like Jon was more of an ideologue while Lars focused on profitability and growing the business.

    During the recent General Assembly, much of the board was replaced as well. A former guy from Nokia, some Telenor guy and so on.Looks like some big things are about to happen at Opera, and Jon disagreed with that.

    • Nobody

      problem is, that:
      a) Nokia executive in the board? just how good exactly nokia is now? dying? or dead?
      b) operators, operators, operators, operators – is not a good strategy for opera, thats why:

      because for operators to buy into opera, opera must have a browser that works with internet. it wont happen untill opera userbase is bigger than ususal 2%. operator end-user will not use opera if opera fails to browse the internet. and about OEMs – i think that only philips is left using opera in their TVs. nintendo dropped opera etc.

      how long it will take for google to make similar ‘compression engine as opera mini’ – this is now only opera product that sets it aside from competition. and one that is easy to copy for big players (apple already sends compressed content to iPad appStore when it sees that you are on 3G instead on wifi – would it be hard for them to copy entire solution?)

      problem is, that opera does little to up that market share, and never did – all their ‘revolutions’ were failures, their end-user marketing is miniscule, and opera did NOTHING to make developers care for opera (opera developer tools are still A PIECE OF CRAP and noone will test and debug pages for opera without serious dev tools – manual labour? opera is not paying for that)

      currently opera is following RIM way – they think that they can manage with all b2b, ignoring end user market. and they are both similarly successful at that.

      and for the guy up there – i didnt like that guy, but at least he had values he believed, i respect that

      • Mahoaao

        Not a Nokia executive. Former Nokia executive.

        Operators are already “buying into Opera.” Most of the top 30 operators in the world are now Opera customers, and more are being added on a weekly basis.

        Opera is also the biggest TV browser, with a fairly high market share. I think Sony is using Opera on all its internet-capable TVs, for example.

        Sure Google could do compression. But where is it? And operators are becoming increasingly worried about Google’s power. Opera doesn’t just offer compression, but actually a more complete solution. That is particularly good for operators in emerging markets.

        Opera has maintained its market share in the mobile browser market.

        And if you had bothered to follow the Capital Markets Day, you would have known that despite going for operators and so on, they are primarily B2C-focused. Seems you have a thing or two to learn about Opera.

        • Nobody

          i do not have anything to learn about opera – thats the first

          but, on last MWC and IFA i took liberty to check TV browser market – opera hardly was the biggest, to be true – opera hardly WAS present on these fairs.

          opera IS ignoring desktop end user market – their releases are half-baked bug-riddled jokes (they are about to release 11.50 that will be another FINAL full release with showstopping bugs released just to meet stupid deadline). months of development, lots of outstanding issues and still no breaktrough. it is fairly similar to Symbian..

          and no, i havent bothered to follow this capital markets day – my stock in goog and aapl is doing good enough so why should i look at 3rd tier small company with my money?

          • Mahoaao

            (You were not even aware of Opera on Sony TVs, which says a lot.)

          • Nobody

            are there any models on the market yet?

            it was announced some time ago, but have it materialized?

          • Mahoaao

            Yes, I think all internet-enabled Sony TVs in 2011 come with Opera. I’ll have to double check to be sure, though.

          • Anonymous

            Wow. So he may be not aware of a specific brand of TV supporting Opera. I bet he doesnt follow every company from the day of their conception with the enthusiasm as you might do.

          • Rogir

            This isn’t exactly information that’s hard to find.

          • Mahoaao

            I didn’t say you need to invest in Opera. I was saying that if you actually want to learn something about Opera, you should read the PDF from the Capital Markets Day, since it contains detailed information on Opera’s road ahead.

            And yes, Opera is indeed a big player in the TV market.

            But as you refuse to even read up on Opera’s strategy, we might as well end this discussion right now.

          • Asknobody
      • Rogir

        All of that is moot, Nobody. Opera is going to cease to exist as a separate company. Jon is stepping down because someone wants to buy Opera, Jon no longer has the power to block that, and he has no other choice.

        Mark my words. Within the end of the year, Opera Software will be no more.

        AdMarvel alone is a huge reason to buy Opera. I’m surprised Opera is still around and not bought up already.

        • Nobody

          much depends on how the shares are split – usually founders have huge piece of voting share, that alone can block any merger or acquisition. im not willing to dwelve into opera share structure – but for someone intereseted it would be first place to start. how much buyer needs to have to effectively take control of company.

          sad part is that anyone buying opera will take ad part, maybe mail part, maybe datacenters, but will kill desktop browser – there is no place for it, webkit is the engine of choice. and it is (almost) free.

          • Rogir

            The desktop browser is profitable, so it would be quite foolish to kill it. But that’s not really relevant, since I doubt that Opera will be recognizable a few years after the acquisition.

      • Mikah

        “Nobody > opera did NOTHING to make developers care for opera (opera developer tools are still A PIECE OF CRAP and noone will test and debug pages for opera without serious dev tools – manual labour? opera is not paying for that ”

        “Craig Buckler >Opera has created a stunning browser development tool which is as good — if not better — than all its competitors. Speed and stability is excellent and, although I encountered a small number of minor issues in the final beta, you can expect problems to be rectified quickly.If you tried Dragonfly before but didn’t rate it, I urge you to take another look. I spent several happy hours grinning from ear to ear playing with the new development toys.”
        Lots of positive comments adout the article at
        http://www.sitepoint.com/opera-dragonfly-1-browser-development-tool/

        • Nobody

          it is better than first versions but still:

           - has no javascript profiler (competitors have many options in this area)
           - javascript messages are rather vague while on the same errors competitors can be much more descriptive – some generic “uncaught exception” is the most common
           - switching tabs DOES NOT move debugging context and requires RELOAD on each and every one of them!! this is something that kills it as a DEBUGGING tool! it is really easy inspecting bugs when you have to RELOAD the page after you find one (unless you are prepared for it..). until this is gone, dont expect anyone serious using it debugging anything serious
           - lots of interface inconsistencies (press backspace in area that does not accept it, but still be focused in dragonfly and… opera goes back in history..)

          and last but not least: it took opera more time to build dragonfly (still in its infancy) than it took apple to make ipad or google to make chrome. entire facebook was created in this time!

          it is too late now – name one mainstream page that works 100% ok in opera? google? no, yahoo? no, ms services? no, facebook? no, twitter? no, flickr? no. even apple store has some issues with menus.

          maybe these pages would have worked if their devs had the tools to support opera 5 years ago?

          • Mark Schenk

            Despite the not-so-subtle phrasing, you raise a few fair points.

            - I agree it took far too long to take Dragonfly from inception to its current state; part of it can be attributed to the technologies being used (it is one of the more complex JavaScript applications I know), but also to limited manpower on the project.

            - regarding the reloading; I can imagine that always enabling a debugger may hit performance, so a good compromise could be that every page loaded whilst Dragonfly is open, is automatically profiled.

            - lastly, regarding the high-profile sites that break, the answer is hackneyed, but not altogether untrue: a large part of the problem is with the sites, rather than Opera. They choose to work around other browsers’ bugs and not Opera’s. The problem of site-compatibility is largely a chicken-and-egg problem: once/if it gains enough market share, the sites will specifically accommodate Opera, but until then, Opera is forced to try and fix the site developers’ bugs through its browser.js solution on an ad hoc basis.

          • Nobody

            site compatibility IS complex topic as both sides (browser and site devs) have no ruling over the other

            and there IS some discrimination for opera.. BUT:

             - http://my.opera.com/sitepatching/blog/ – here is a page dedicated to browser.js – as a food for thought, read it and see how many patches are added for ‘CORE issue’ and how many for ‘site sniffing’ – i can save you some time – it is around 10 to 1. most opera issues with pages that browser.js fixes are from OPERA OWN BUGS! some of them are pretty big ones (and old ones as well) like we-do-it-better key event handling or antique navigator object (used for history.back and breaking Google instant)

            yes, webdevs could have worked around these quirks, but because untill very recently it wasnt obvious that it is opera quirk (no tools, you know) they simply ignored it. or cut opera so it dont break (google instant again – masking as firefox DID NOT WORK: history back was broken, text input crashed after inputting non-alphanumeric character, input stopped working after deleting character etc etc etc – it was almost all opera fault, esp in navigator object, that they started to fix few builds ago)

             - http://my.opera.com/hallvors/blog/ – blog of one of opera js developers (and one that i respect very much) revealing how they work and on what they work. it is interesting need, esp when you see how archaic tools he had to use not so long ago – even opera own devs suffered from lack of developer tools. he HAD to work that way, twitter developers obviously hadn’t.

            so i’ll stay by my theory – if opera have had dev tools 5 years ago, some of opera problems with site compatibility (their main reason of low marketshare – who wants to use shitty browser that fails on almost all pages?) would have been gone.

            too little too late

          • Mark Schenk

            I actively follow both the blogs you mentioned, and am certainly aware that a fair number of the site-incompatibilities are the result of Opera bugs — bugs which the site authors have chosen not to work around (and I’m not saying they should always do so). That is not to say browser sniffing isn’t still a problem, but that is in part solved by Opera’s “override_downloaded.ini” which sets UA spoofing for a range of sites, rather than browser.js

            What we disagree on is the extent to which the developer tools are to blame. I don’t think they are as important as you believe them to be. Opera’s market-share in most countries is simply not sufficient for project managers to allocate time to debug esoteric issues. Yes, good debugging tools would speed up the process, but I don’t think it’s the primary problem; market-share is.

            Also, Opera’s release cycle is fairly frequent (although Chrome is setting benchmarks in that area as well), and Opera users tend to upgrade quite quickly to new releases. As a result, I can imagine site authors rather wait for a new Opera release to see if the bug is fixed, rather than solve the problem for themselves.

            Anyway, I hadn’t previously fully considered the importance of developer tools for market share, so this thread has certainly provided me some food for thought.

    • gunnar

      Tne shift over to operators started when Jon was CEO.. 

    • gunnar

      Tne shift over to operators started when Jon was CEO..

  • Rogir

    Looks like Opera Software is about to disappear.

    That is, it’s going to become part of a bigger company.

    Jon never wanted to sell Opera. In 2007, he “fired” the board over differences, probably over acquisitions.

    Now the board might want to sell Opera, but Jon doesn’t want that. Hence, he leaves (maybe in protest) because he never wanted Opera to be sold to someone else.

  • http://twitter.com/bricky149 Shane Bundy

    I’ve thought the same thing. Opera’s browser has only about 2% and so an aquisition may not come as a surprise.

    It’s quite sad to see Jon leave us just as the company may have been about to lift off.

  • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael

    How can you have all that internal information???

    • http://rudivisser.myopenid.com/ Rudi Visser

      1 email?

      • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael

        No, the things about who plans to buy Opera, what kinds of things Jon didin’t like.

  • Mikah

    Opera Desktop browser share may be suck at around 2% but the worldwide number of users is growing very fast annually so they still grow the user base.
    Hope they don’t dumb down the browser to accommodate the nobody’s of this world.

    • Anonymous

      Define “Growing Fast”

      It is a stagnant share.

      • Mikah

        A 2% slice of the pie is bigger this year because the Internet pie has grown  it’s a pretty simple concept. Opera is a small company with a 2% market share for Desktop & leads in Mobile.
        http://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm

        • Nobody

          opera user base is around 50mln constantly. so given that ‘the pie’ grows means that opera market SHARE shrinks each year.

          and btw – opera 11 was to be a ‘revolution’ that would make this 2% thing of the past. and maybe it is, it is now in 1% proximity

          mobile share is big NOW, but no new mobile OS uses opera – android uses webkit, iOS uses webkit, RIM (whatever it is worth) uses webkit and nokia just dumped symbian etc sticking with WINMO7 that uses IE.

          so for how long this big share will stay big?

          • Asknobody

            Yeah, and Windows OS are using IE so other browsers like Firefox and Chrome are doomed to fail? Your arguments are laughable :D

          • Rogir

            Opera’s desktop computer product increased from 40 million users some time ago to 50 million users late last year.

            Opera’s mobile market share has increased since the end of 2010. They don’t need to be on mobile OSes since they have most of the world’s biggest mobile operators as customers.

            But all of this is moot since I doubt that Opera Software will exist as a separate company 12 months from now.

  • Anonymous

    Cool. The apple fiasco all over again.

    It’s sad when a founder of a company steps down.

    • Rogir

      The founder stepped down more than a year ago. He left the chair to someone he hand-picked. Since then he hasn’t really had any real power in the company. Opera made strategic changes at that time, and they are obviously paying off. Opera now sees record profits and growth.

      Your assumption that this is Apple all over again seems misplaced.

      It’s sad when a founder steps down, but it is not always bad. In fact, it is often a good thing. Once the basic platform has been built, one needs to start making money.

      • Anonymous

        Why not?

        It’s like being fired. He’s company is going in a direction he did not intend or want.

        Now his gone for good.

        You seem somewhat contradictory by first exclaiming that “Opera software is about to disappear” then say it is a good thing?

        If Opera becomes part of a bigger company, then what is there to stop that company from renaming IP. The Opera we once knew might be Google Chrome or some Telecommunication product.

        • Mikah

          Gone for good just like Steve jobs ? 
          I thought he returned to Apple in 1996 & we all know how that turned out

          • Anonymous

            Lol paraphrasing.

            I didn’t say Steve Jobs is gone for good.

            The Steve reference was because I watched “Pirates of Silicon Valley” a few days ago and this seemed kind of similar to it. Don’t you think so?

        • Rogir

          I strongly believe that the main reason Jon left the company is that the board and management are willing to sell. That still doesn’t mean that the company has dumped all the long-term investments they announced at their Capital Markets Day.

          I do believe that Opera Software will no longer exist 12 months from now. But that doesn’t mean that this can be compared to Apple, because the current management is highly competent, as they have shown since 2010.

  • Anonymous

    Whats up with the Old Opera Logo in the picture?

    Is this a old photo?

  • http://twitter.com/bricky149 Shane Bundy

    “And her tits were this big…”

    Joking aside, I’ll miss Jon’s stubborn behaviour with selling Opera.

  • No one

    “The fat lady sings”
    A contemporary tragedy in four acts
    Libretto

    Act I – After 15 years, JvT relinquishes position as CEO, acts as “advisor” to the company – JB (a salesman) is hired as new CEO.

    Act II – JvT resigns his position at the company, citing unreconciable differences with Mansagement and the Board of Directors as to the future direction of the company.

    Act III – A short while later, CEO JB and the Board sell the company to the highest bidder. 75% of staff are made instantly redundant, while the remaining 25% must reapply for their jobs.

    Act IV – Opera Software ASA ceases to exist as a public company. The fat lady sings.
    11:44
    Critics say:

    “A fantastic, real life parody of the Marx Brothers “A Night at the Opera”.

  • No one

    “The fat lady sings”
    A contemporary tragedy in four acts
    Libretto

    Act I – After 15 years, JvT relinquishes position as CEO, acts as “advisor” to the company – JB (a salesman) is hired as new CEO.

    Act II – JvT resigns his position at the company, citing unreconciable differences with Mansagement and the Board of Directors as to the future direction of the company.

    Act III – A short while later, CEO JB and the Board sell the company to the highest bidder. 75% of staff are made instantly redundant, while the remaining 25% must reapply for their jobs.

    Act IV – Opera Software ASA ceases to exist as a public company. The fat lady sings.
    11:44
    Critics say:

    “A fantastic, real life parody of the Marx Brothers “A Night at the Opera”.