Opera Software ASA, the Norwegian software company, best known for the Opera family of web browsers, could be sold to a consortium of Chinese companies at a price tag of $1.2 billion.
This news first surfaced as just rumors that the board and shareholders were contemplating accepting a takeover by the consortium of Chinese firms. However, it would appear that a section of company’s management is not particularly thrilled about the acquisition. In fact, should the takeover not take place, they will not be disappointed.
Opera is perhaps falling victim to its own success. It grew up to become a big enough software company that it went public. While that means more capital to finance further growth and to enter more world markets, it also means that the shareholders get the power to influence the company’s direction. The founders and management get little to no say in the matters, especially if they became the minor shareholders in the business they founded.
During a sit down with TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Lar Boilesen the CEO and Håkon Wium Lie the CTO of Opera had a candid interview.
The elephant in the room was, of course, the proposed sale of Opera to the consortium of Chinese companies. Both Boilesen and Wium Lie were stressing on the fact that the acquisition has not yet gone through, and if it never goes through. They will not lose sleep over it.
“I have been working for Opera since ’99, Håkon ’98,” said Boilesen. “He’s no.8; I’m no.16. We’ve been with Opera for many years. We got listed on the Stockholm stock exchange in 2004. So basically, the shareholders; they decided to initiate this process. It was kind of their decision. It wasn’t our decision.”
Wium Lie added: “If you are listed on the stock exchange, you have to be prepared for this kind of stuff. Anybody can buy you. We benefitted from that system and now…you know…”
Boilesen said, “We are not big shareholders. We know what it’s like to be on the stock exchange, so basically we just started the process. We are the ones who have to work with the interested parties… We worked with them; that was kind of interesting. We kind of did that.
There were all kinds of things there from private equity firms that want to get the cost down; but they would’ve closed down the firm in four years and we’re not super interested in that. We still want more people to use our software. That’s what we are passionate about.”
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