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Opera Software Technology

Opera Founder Jon S. von Tetzchner Resigns 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-gestures dept.
fysdt writes with this excerpt from TechCrunch: "Opera founder Jon S. von Tetzchner has resigned from the company. In an email to Opera employees, von Tetzchner said that '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.'"
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Opera Founder Jon S. von Tetzchner Resigns

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, 2011 @02:45PM (#36559256)

    If not, that'll cut their usage share by half.

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Opera has more than 200 million users (on desktop and mobile combined), so I think they're doing pretty well as it is.
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        Does anyone force Opera on their customers as Apple forces Safari on their iPhone users?

  • Ouch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 24, 2011 @02:49PM (#36559306) Journal

    Opera has been a damn good browser, and the focus of the company Opera has always been producing a damn good browser. If the focus becomes quarterly profit, I don't see much of a future for the Opera browser.

    • by Applekid (993327)

      Opera has been a damn good browser, and the focus of the company Opera has always been producing a damn good browser. If the focus becomes quarterly profit, I don't see much of a future for the Opera browser.

      Unless they can make such a damn good browser people would be willing to pay for it.

      Considering they moved away from a paid model, yeah...

      • by hkmwbz (531650)

        Considering they moved away from a paid model, yeah...

        Your point being? They did move away from that, and now have more than 200 million users on desktop+mobile+devices.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        I used to use it back in Windows 95 times, and I did pay for a version way back then. It was, at the time, the fastest browser out there. It switched to an ad-supported model, then the GUI ads disappeared, so I don't really know how they made ends meet... I don't use it much nowadays.

    • by hkmwbz (531650)

      If the focus becomes quarterly profit, I don't see much of a future for the Opera browser.

      What does that mean? Turning a profit is evil?

      • by Hatta (162192)

        No, that means focusing on the short term alone is likely to be bad for the long term.

        • by hkmwbz (531650)
          What makes you think anyone is going to focus on the short term alone? Opera has numerous long-term projects, such as a new joint venture in China which is supposed to grow their presence there. That will take time, and will cost money in the short term, but is expected to be profitable in the long run.
          • by sconeu (64226)

            What makes you think anyone is going to focus on the short term alone?

            How about this?

            I feel the Board and Management is more quarterly focused than me

      • by digitig (1056110)
        That short-term profit might not be a good long-term strategy.
        • by hkmwbz (531650)
          As I already replied: "What makes you think anyone is going to focus on the short term alone? Opera has numerous long-term projects, such as a new joint venture in China which is supposed to grow their presence there. That will take time, and will cost money in the short term, but is expected to be profitable in the long run."
      • by Teun (17872)
        Stupid question.

        No of course the man is not opposed to making a profit, quite the contrary.

        The man is against short term and short sighted policies, he prefers to have a future horizon that's more than 13 weeks ahead.BR> A perfectly sensible thing to do.

        • by hkmwbz (531650)
          I don't understand. Where did anyone say that quarterly profits are the only focus? Opera has numerous long-term projects going that will in fact cost money in the short term (and they were started after JvT stepped down as CEO), so it seems quite ignorant to claim that they have started only thinking about quarterly profits.

          In fact, the company believes that the real big money will not be made until a few years from now. They may be profitable right now, but their aim is long-term profitability, and they

          • by Teun (17872)
            No worry you don't understand, this is typically a confidential issue between the board and the Management.

            But judging by his public statement we can safely assume he wanted a longer term goal while the Board wanted more focus on the short term results.

            • by hkmwbz (531650)

              But judging by his public statement we can safely assume he wanted a longer term goal while the Board wanted more focus on the short term results.

              No we can't. We can conclude that he said something about "more on quarterly results", and the fact is that after he stepped down, Opera has been able to both deliver quarterly profits and set up projects and strategies for the long term. Maybe he wanted them to ignore quarterly profits, but clearly it was time for Opera to deliver on something after 15 years in

              • by praxis (19962)

                Maybe he felt there should be more focus on long-term goals and less focus on short-term goals. That is, after all, what he said. It's not a binary thing. He felt it was too much of one and not enough of the other.

  • No surprises here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday June 24, 2011 @02:56PM (#36559416) Homepage

    Business guys want short-term profit at all costs. Technical guys want long-term technical excellence which is better in the long run but not as profitable in the short run. Because the business guys have the dough, they win in a for-profit business.

    That (in a nutshell) is why for-profit business cannot be the driver of excellence in software.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      I'm sure some business decisions are long term based. Like .NET, or CUDA, or research generally.

    • Panicky investors and the business guys who live in perpetual fear of them want short-term profit at all costs

      FTFY.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        It's actually not panicky investors, but investors who can very easily move their cash to greener pastures.

        Imagine a world with 2 investment possibilities: Company A is growing at a steady 5% and is likely to continue that easily over the next 5 years. Company B is growing at a very unstable 15%, and is likely to blow up in about 6 months. Our rational investor will want to invest in company B for the next 5 months, then go back and move their money into company A. If the investor moves his cash, it's quite

    • Re:No surprises here (Score:4, Interesting)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:17PM (#36559688)

      Yes and No. I've beaten my head against developers who see their code as sacred and are unwilling to put it in the hands of users.

      That obsession with perfection can often prevent "good enough" software from being put to good use "before it's ready". And then I often find that the developers are working in too much isolation and lose the incredibly valuable feedback from being used 'in the wild'.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:24PM (#36559774) Journal

      "...profit at all costs."

      You know that's an oxymoron right?

      • by MrHanky (141717)

        It's not. Not at all. Cost-cutting is a common approach to short-term profits, often leading to lower quality which may cost money in the long term as the product no longer sells.

    • by Artagel (114272)
      You do know that the investment made in companies uses money, right? And the people who gave the money, actually value the money? I mean, sure, it must be fun to burn other people's money. But don't act surprised when they object.
    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      So... Are you saying that Opera was driving excellence before and isn't now? Or what are you talking about exactly?

      Is Google driving excellence? Is Apple driving excellence? Can you think of no for-profit business that drive excellence in software?

      How about you mention someone who does drive excellence in software, then?

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      If business guys wanted "short-term profit at all costs", they would all immediately liquidate their businesses in order to show extremely high short-term profit. The vast majority of businesses don't want "short-term profit at all costs", they want long-term growth out of investment expenditure.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:01PM (#36559482)
    I think the board will find that monetizing a great product in an environment of free mediocre and/or good equivalent products is still a failing business model.
    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      What makes you think "monetizing" means that the product won't be free? Google searches are free, and yet they monetized that.

      Hint: Opera is making money in several different ways without charging users directly.

  • Fastmail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by willoughby (1367773) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:01PM (#36559494)

    I don't use the Opera browser but I do have an account at Fastmail (an Opera company). I wonder if they'll be affected by this dustup.

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:01PM (#36559496)
    I've been using Opera since before it was free, since I feel it provides the most in terms of features and performance. Every update seems to get better and faster while maintaining a low footprint. I don't know how they keep adding features without it becoming a bloated mess, but they manage to. It's sad they don't have more market share.
  • Fork'd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cratermoon (765155) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:16PM (#36559680) Homepage
    Why doesn't von Tetzchner just fork the source and create a new project? Oh right, Opera is closed source. Pity.
    • What would be the point? 2 versions of an irrelevant browser?

  • by Tridus (79566) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:25PM (#36559792) Homepage

    I met Jon years ago, and found him to be a great guy. The company at the time was focused on making a good browser for power users, and they did that really well. It also helped that back then they were focused on performance and working on older systems.

    At some point I noticed things changing years later. Opera got bigger, and slower. UI stuff that worked forever was broken in favor of a less flexible Firefox clone model. Attention was diverted to writing an email client. Then a BitTorrent client. Then a web server built into the browser. I only wish I was making that last one up [opera.com].

    The company lost focus on what made Opera good in the first place as they went from trying to be a good, fast browser to trying to do everything for everybody. Finally I stopped using it when the drift got so bad that it wasn't really better then Firefox at anything.

    This drift coincided with the company growing in size and it being less about how it started: Jon and a few other guys trying to make a good browser.

    • by afidel (530433) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:40PM (#36559984)
      IMHO they make the best mobile browser out there, and since almost all the carriers are now going with draconian data plans it makes tons of sense to use their compression and resizing model. I was never a fan of their desktop browser, but I'm glad they were there as most of the other players stole some of their best ideas and incorporated them into browsers that fit my style better.
    • Then a web server built into the browser.

      I'll get flamed for this but I love the web server that is built in. I use it instead of throwing stuff up to websites like senduit and the like. SO much easier and cleaner from my end. I haven't really worked on the photo sharing piece of unite yet however. That's something else too. Granted, their E-mail and torrent program is shite but their RSS feeder is the best I've used by miles and miles. Nobody has come close.

    • by hkmwbz (531650) on Friday June 24, 2011 @03:45PM (#36560056) Journal

      The company at the time was focused on making a good browser for power users

      Actually, it was never just a browser. Even the first public version did mail, newsgroups, and more. Furthermore, site compatibility was a huge problem in the early days, and until recently. Opera now works with more sites than ever.

      It also helped that back then they were focused on performance and working on older systems.

      Good thing Opera is currently one of the fastest browsers, and still runs on slow hardware, them.

      Opera got bigger, and slower.

      On the contrary. Opera is now faster than ever. It got bigger because it now handles a lot more open web standards and technologies than it used to. You'll notice that most of the growth comes from adding support for new web standards, and adding workarounds for broken sites.

      UI stuff that worked forever was broken in favor of a less flexible Firefox clone model.

      Such as?

      Attention was diverted to writing an email client. Then a BitTorrent client. Then a web server built into the browser. I only wish I was making that last one up.

      What are you talking about? The BitTorrent hasn't received a single update in several years. Mail was there from the very first public version, but was also left nearly untouched until quite recently, when they made a new mail panel for 11.0 or something like that.

      It is clear that you have no idea what you are talking about.

      Unite might be a web server, but what it enables is direct communication between devices. Opera is not just a desktop browser, but actually a cross-platform browser.

      The company lost focus on what made Opera good in the first place as they went from trying to be a good, fast browser to trying to do everything for everybody.

      Once again you are getting it completely wrong. Opera has always been doing more than just browser.

      This drift coincided with the company growing in size and it being less about how it started: Jon and a few other guys trying to make a good browser.

      You must be drunk or something. Jon himself wanted Opera to be everything for everyone. He was constantly going on about how great that was in various interviews.

      Clearly, you are completely clueless about Opera's history.

      • by Tridus (79566) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:24PM (#36560550) Homepage

        Actually, it was never just a browser. Even the first public version did mail, newsgroups, and more. Furthermore, site compatibility was a huge problem in the early days, and until recently. Opera now works with more sites than ever.

        Opera 3 had rudimentary support, at best. Considerable effort was spent in creating M2 (the mail client in later versions) after the fact when they should have been focusing on the browser.

        Good thing Opera is currently one of the fastest browsers, and still runs on slow hardware, them.

        On the contrary. Opera is now faster than ever. It got bigger because it now handles a lot more open web standards and technologies than it used to. You'll notice that most of the growth comes from adding support for new web standards, and adding workarounds for broken sites.

        Not in my experience. Opera lost most of its performance advantage several versions ago. They've probably regained some of it recently compared to Firefox because FF 4 is such a pig, but that's hardly a credit to them and more of a condemnation of Mozilla.

        Such as?

        Couple of the many that annoyed me:

        In early versions if you closed the browser with multiple windows open, reopening the browser later would reload those windows from the server. They changed that later so that it would reload the cached versions, completely ignoring cache settings and bringing up stuff that could be *days* since expired. When I stopped using it, it was still doing that. Firefox does the same thing.

        They also changed from the nice windowing model Opera 6 had to a less functional tab style version around Opera 9 (or maybe 10) where you couldn't layer things around inside the same window anymore, instead you had to split the tab off into its own window and then do it. Hell, Opera 3's MDI was more capable of that.

        What are you talking about? The BitTorrent hasn't received a single update in several years. Mail was there from the very first public version, but was also left nearly untouched until quite recently, when they made a new mail panel for 11.0 or something like that.

        The BitTorrent client was built before it was ignored, which was attention spent on something that was never needed. And really, ignoring stuff that needs work is the Opera way in some things. They had a great custom search functionality years before anybody else, but had no UI to edit it and sent people off to edit ini files instead. That's certainly fine in the first version it appears, but they left it that way for years to play around with other stuff instead.

        Mail was there in some form in Opera 3, then totally redone in later versions, then ignored for a while.

        It is clear that you have no idea what you are talking about.

        Really? You're the one telling me the same mail client has been there all along when it really wasn't. They called it "M2" for a reason, and it wasn't because it was the first version.

        Unite might be a web server, but what it enables is direct communication between devices. Opera is not just a desktop browser, but actually a cross-platform browser.

        Unite is a web server stuck inside a web browser. It'd make more sense as a standalone app so that people could A) not install it, and B) keep it running after closing the browser. (Maybe they fixed B since I stopped using Opera, the first time they didn't fix windowing issues and instead announced a web server I decided I was done with them.)

        You must be drunk or something. Jon himself wanted Opera to be everything for everyone. He was constantly going on about how great that was in various interviews./quote?

        Jon was the CEO until last year. Have you EVER heard a CEO go on an interview and say "yeah we're doing this shit all wrong"?

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by hkmwbz (531650)

          Opera 3 had rudimentary support, at best. Considerable effort was spent in creating M2 (the mail client in later versions) after the fact when they should have been focusing on the browser.

          There was a full e-mail client in Opera 4. M2 came with Opera 7, and has barely been touched for extended periods. For example, until the recent mail panel facelift, it had been dormant for a long time. So yes, Opera has indeed been doing more than just a browser since day 1, and the non-browser parts have often suffered

      • by 6031769 (829845)

        You'll notice that most of the growth comes from adding support for new web standards, and adding workarounds for broken sites.

        And therein lies the rub. A browser should never, never incorporate workarounds for broken sites. The broken sites should be fixed. End. Of. Story.

        • For the most part, if not entirely, the only thing that is incorporated are codes/methods/etc that can crash/freeze the browser, which is entirely expected.

          The website fixing parts are done by BrowserJS [opera.com] (currently a 106KB JS file) which can be disabled.

          • lol, that is to say fixing those things... although yes, they do incorporate their own bugs too.

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:02PM (#36560268)

    "the Board and Management is more quarterly focused than me."

    That's it. Stick a fork in it. Opera is done.

    It will go up for sale within the year, get bought out, and disappear. Because the board needs its golden parachutes.

    --
    BMO

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Why would Opera be done? Just because someone buys it doesn't mean that the browser will disappear.
      • by bmo (77928)

        Because it will be bought out by a company to "increase its holdings" whereupon it will be milked for what it's worth and be left to die. No updates, nothing. This is especially true if it is a financial company or a "group of investors." - R&D and development are "overhead." It is "better" for them to get what they can and run with the profits.

        Because actually running a company requires work.

        A rather infamous example is Partition Magic. It was bought by Symantec and never received an update in its

  • by TheGreatGraySkwid (553871) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:37PM (#36560738) Homepage

    I mean, what could one really expect from Opera if not Drama?

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