At Opera, we do things a little differently than other companies. We go swimming, we celebrate holidays, and we even drink a little bit.
We're on a mission to tell everyone about Opera. And sometimes we go to some pretty interesting places to do it. So it was surprisingly no surprise that a team of Opera employees found themselves crossing Russia by train last week.
Russia is one of Opera's strongest markets. Depending on the day, Opera usually has between 12% and 15% marketshare, making us the most popular alternative browser (w00t!). Knowing that, we decided an expedition was in order to find out more about the place on Earth where Opera reigns supreme.
Day One: Moscow
The day opened with a press conference to pre-announce Opera Mini 4. As you can see, everyone had their game face on.
After that we began our university tour. Our first stop was Moscow State University, the largest technical university in Russia.
Students wait patiently in an orderly line to register.
Jan Standal (r) meets with a student.
Jon enjoys having his picture taken.
It's all smiles that night.
IE developers hard at work.
A total of seven of us set off that night to Nizhny Novgorod. Just a short 6-hour train ride through the night.
The team from here on out was (from left):
- Alexey Feldgendler (developer dude, Russian citizen, all-around jack of technical things, translator)
- Ilya Shpan'kov (community dude, Opera activist, Linux fanatic)
- Thomas Ford (PR dude, spokesmodel)
- Ben Jacobsen (marketing dude, caffeine drinker, organizer)
- Oleg Tukh (product manager dude, Russia speaker, Opera Mini guru)
- Jan Standal (product manager dude, Web technology evangelist, rational thinker)
- Anastasia Tarasova (event manager dudette, unofficial group mother, Mac lover)
Day 2: Nizhny Novgorod
After traveling through the night, we arrived into a frigid Nizhny Novgorod tired, hungry and ready to see if we could build upon the previous day's success. That's Anastasia to the left and Ben barely awake to the right.
It's love at first sight for Ilya and Opera Mini.
Students gather outside, waiting to meet Opera. It's totally amazing to ask a crowd of several hundred students how many use Opera - and then see almost every hand shoot upward.
It's back on the train, this time for the much longer 9 hour journey to Kazan. After a successful day, Oleg is excited for more. Champagne might have helped in this case.
Day 3: Kazan
We arrive in the morning into Kazan. We're tired, but the city's beauty inspires us to press on with the day. Jan takes a moment out of his busy schedule to pose for the camera.
Kazan is seriously cool. The students have great questions, really spend a lot of time with us and the adminstration goes out of their way to make us feel welcome. Anastasia gets mobbed handing out shirts. 100 shirts gone in less than 45 seconds.
Jan takes a moment out of his busy schedule to sign a poster for an Opera fan.
We drove through the night to reach Samara. Along the way, Ben and Oleg are totally pumped up. I wonder if the bottle had anything to do with this?
Day 4: Samara
Perhaps the bottle had something to do with it, but no pictures of the event exist! Afterwards though we met with some Opera fans, including My Opera member ylmorozov, who presented us with a bottle of local vodka. On a completely unrelated note, no other pictures exist from this day.
Day 5: Home
Our trusty steed on the way back to Moscow was a Tupolev 154. Everyone is relaxed except me. I'm still feeling the effects from my birthday party the night before.
We had an incredible time in Russia. We want to do more, much more in fact. With your help, we can figure out how we can replicate these events at universities worldwide. Let us know what we can do to bring the Opera roadshow to a school near you.