Opera Shifts Focus to Silicon Valley

Meanwhile as the tech scene is picking up in Norway, thanks to new coworking spaces and investors, Oslo-based Opera Software is building a bigger presence in Silicon Valley by tripling office space and doubling its workforce.

Part of this new growth is comping through a new acquisition of Skyfire, a movie cloud-based solutions provider, that Opera has thrown under Opera Mediaworks, their new mobile advertising subsidiary.

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Opera Shows Off WebKit Integration In New Release

Opera, the Oslo-based web browser, has released Opera 15 today which comes as their first official release since dropping their homegrown engine and basing their browser on WebKit.

Tom's Hardware recently benchmarked all the recent browser releases, and found that Firefox and Opera booked the fastest speed compared to Chrome and Firefox in a long time.

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Opera Moves To WebKit

Well, we can follow one Opera story after another. Opera has announced 300 million active users, but the big news is that they're moving from Presto, their own rendering engine, to WebKit. With Safari, Chrome, and now Opera now using the engine, well over 40% of the internet will be displayed through Webkit. The main motivation for this move is likely cost - contributing to another engine is cheaper than maintaining and building your own.

"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie.

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Opera Founder Sells Controlling Shares, Could Pave Way For Acquisition

Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner has sold shares in the company valued between NOK 180 and 200 million (€24-27 million), as shown in recently released shareholders' statements. After the sale Tetzchner has 5.18% ownership stake in Opera, which is below the 10% limit where Von Tetzchner could have blocked acquisition deals.

Dagens Næringsliv reports on the history of Von Tetzchner's relationship with the publicly traded browser company:

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Opera Gets Into One-Click Mobile Payments With New Partnership

Oprea is an old timer in the Scandinavian digital scene, but that doesn't mean that they haven't stopped innovating. The Norwegian company has seen sizable growth on their mobile browser; they've recently revealed that more than 208 million people used the Opera Mini app in December of 2012. Due to these numbers, they're going after the growing demand for a mobile payments flow that makes sense.

To do so, yesterday Opera's payment arm partnered with Italian Neomobile to bring one-click operator billing to the Opera Payment Exchange (OPX) service.

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Will Facebook Buy Opera? Here's The Rundown Of The Rumors

Facebook has an ungodly amount of money burning in their pocket post-IPO, and the rumor mill has started grinding out stories that the social media giant will buy Opera, the Norwegian desktop and mobile browser company. I suppose it would be a logical move for Facebook. Getting into the browser game would give them a dominant position as the home base for the web, and Facebook has been rumored to be working on a mobile operating system, of which a solid mobile browser is a key component.

We haven't covered Opera much, even though they're probably the most well known Norwegian software company. Even though they haven't gained a sizable market share, by now they seem more like an institution as old as the web, rather than a startup. They've been around since 1995, they're listed on the Norwegian stock exchange, and the company boasts 750 employees around the world.

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Lessons From Norway

Editorial note: This is a guest post by Kristoffer Lawson, the Travelling Salesman. He's on a 10 000 kilometre drive to meet Nordic startups. ArcticStartup is supporting the project, by covering his travels and findings.

With another week on the road, I have to say that the exhaustion is slightly getting the better of me. While it has been a joy to visit this beautiful country, so many things have also gone wrong, from missed meetups to losing a fuel cap, that the stress is beginning to show. Oslo thankfully gave me a chance to recuperate a bit, for a couple of nights, but it also added stress of its own, as I will mention a bit later.

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