What is your background briefly?
I am born in Iceland to an Icelandic mother and a Norwegian father in 1967. I moved to Norway in 1987 to study computer science at the University of Oslo. After that (from 1993, but part time from 1991) I worked at Telenor Research, the research department of the formerly state owned Norwegian Telecom, where we came across the Web in 1992 and started working on the Web browser Opera in 1994, which culminated in the creation of Opera Software in 1995, which I co-founded with Geir Ivarsøy. I was CEO of Opera until 2010, during which time we built the company from 2 to 750 employees, got more than 100 million active users (which continued to grow to 350 million) and took the company public.
I left Opera as CEO in 2010 and as adviser in 2011. In 2013 I co-founded Vivaldi with Tatsuki Tomita and that is where I am now.
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
Very much so. Clearly I have been doing the Web and Web browsers probably longer than most people. This is what I know and applies to the people I work with, many of which have background from Opera as well.
1 min pitch for what you are doing now?
We are building a Web browser. A more powerful and flexible Web browser that places the user first. That may sound like something everyone does, but clearly business models and design philosophy can get in the way of that. We are purely focused on the end user requirements and we take every user seriously. We build a browser which for most will feel just right, after learning about what we have to offer.
Why do you think it is such a powerful idea?
We did this at my old company and we managed to get 350 million users based on word of mouth in a very competitive area, competing with some of the most powerful companies in the world. Clearly we believe that listening to the users and giving them what they want is both the right thing to do and a lot of fun! We get a lot of user feedback and a lot of user support.
What % of users does Vivaldi have?
We are currently at about 1 million active users. In % terms this is clearly not a lot, but we have a lot of room to grow and we believe that by continuing to create a great browser, the word will spread. We are seeing it happen.
How do you crack the challenge that your competitor search engine is so widely used that it has become a verb?
If there is one thing we know, it is competing with large companies with household names. Clearly most people know Microsoft, Apple and Google. That makes this a fun challenge as well, but you have to remember that with a market this big, we do not need to be the number one player to have a lot of users.
Tell us more about the special features you have?
There is a lot to tell. Let me try to be brief:
- You will notice while installing Vivaldi how things are different. Already at install you get to start making Vivaldi yours, using ready made themes and the like. Vivaldi is very customizeable and I sure that with a little tweaking you will have it looking perfect for you. Working too.
- Depending on your preferences, your interaction with Vivaldi can use the mouse, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, including single key keyboard shortcuts, and quick commands. Try you these different ways to use Vivaldi and find the combination that works best for you.
- The Vivaldi panels are very useful. There you have things like bookmarks, downloads and notes, but you can also add your own. Just select a site you want to have available all the time and add it to the panel. Web panels are a favorite feature of our users.
- A big part of using a browser is the tab handling. Being able to have a lot of tabs open and find your way around them easily is very important to many. Thus we have spent a lot of time on this. Learn all about tab stacks and tab stack tiles, which allows you to divide your screen into areas, each with their own web content.
- The notes function is great to quickly grabbing quotes from the Internet, including where you found them and a link.
- The capture function is great for taking a screenshot of the page you are visiting or your browser window.
- We now have synchronization in Vivaldi 2.0, so you can synchronize bookmarks, notes and passwords between your different computers. Make sure to use the encryption password.
The list goes on and on. There are speed dials, a very advanced history function and more. Vivaldi can adapt to your needs and when you need it to more, most likely it already does. If not, let us know and we will add what you need, one feature at a time. We listen to all our users and we aim to please.
How do you protect people’s privacy?
When it comes to privacy, we consider our users our friends. That means, among other things, that we do not collect information about our users’ use of the browser. Sadly there is too much information gathering online and we see it as our task to fight that on behalf of our users, but clearly the first step is not to engage in this our selves. Secondly, we have made some choices, such as not showing search suggestions by default, as these would share what is entered into the address bar with the search provider. We also try to choose partners that think more like us, such as DuckDuckGo and Qwant, with regards to the privacy of the user. We will continue to look at ways we can expand on the privacy of our users.
How can people find out more about you & your work?
I would urge people to give Vivaldi a try. Just go to vivaldi.com , download and install on your computer. We also have a lot of information on the site and various video tutorials. Feel free to get a Vivaldi.net account as well, where you get a free, ad-free webmail, blog and access to our discussion forums. There are many helpful users there and that is where we hang around as well.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
There is a lot to Vivaldi. I suggest you download it and try it. Let me know what you think and I am happy to take more questions.