First impressions matter: When I came for my day of interviews at Opera back in November 2004, I was quickly ushered from the busy reception area into a meeting room (Arie). There was a bunch of people in the room, and I quickly realized this was the team I'd potentially be managing and that I was part of Pål Hvistendahl's leaving party (Pål was my predecessor). Jon von Tetzchner was in the room, and Rolf Assev came in. Somebody asked "who's that guy in the corner," and Rolf responded, "He's the fellow we're interviewing for Pål's job." After that, I was completely sold on Opera. A company that is so inclusive and unconcerned with regular business etiquette was my kind of place. And I was right.
Everyone talks about April Fools jokes, and we've done many. Most of them failed to draw much attention (in competition with every single IT company out there). Except Face Gestures. This one was so good that prospective employees bragged about their familiarity with our latest face recognition technology in job interviews. Neeext!
Opera's canteen. Wow. Every day is a memorable moment on the 5th floor of Opera's HQ. Keep it up!
In 2007, we urged the European Commission to investigate what we believed were Microsoft's anti-competitive bundling of IE with Windows. A while later, Microsoft was forced to add a "Choice Screen" to its Windows shipments in Europe. Along the way, Opera took a lot of heat. The criticism faded when people realized that Microsoft started making positive changes to their web standards support in IE and when the Choice Screen started to roll out. Sometimes, you gotta stay firm.
In 2005, we said "Feel Free".
Management is 75% experience and 25% professional skills. At Opera, we throw young people out in deep water, letting them sink or swim as managers. You quickly learn to swim when you need to give people messages they don't want to hear. You never learn to enjoy those moments, but you understand the importance of setting high standards and expecting world class performance.
In terms of PR success, I think our best piece of work was the "State of the Mobile Web" report. We launched it back in 2008 as a tool to help the world understand how people are using the mobile internet. In return, Opera has increased its awareness as the company behind the world's most popular mobile web browser. In our first report, we bragged about Opera Mini's massive user base (12 million in March 2008). Today, we're at more than 105 million users. (Thanks to Thomas Ford for his relentless contributions to the SMW report...)
We had a lot of fun with this one. The marketing team scored big hits with one of their contributions. We've won numerous awards for this campaign (European Excellence Award, Gullkorn, Gulltaggen, Sabre Awards).
The swim: Back in 2005, we launched Opera 8. The campaign featured the slightly infamous "Opera Man" but it also featured the legendary "Jon swims to the U.S. if we achieve 1 million downloads in four days" stunt. My favorite moment was when we got an email from a professor in Austria who was suddenly concerned that he had told his whole class to download Opera, and, now he was worried that he'd be part of killing Jon, who couldn't possibly make it across the Atlantic ...
The Product: Looking back at my six years in Opera, one product truly stands out as the one we kicked butt with: Opera Mini. We launched a limited pilot of Opera Mini in the fall of 2005, featuring Opera's first TV ads (on TV2 in Norway). That set the stage for what today is the world's most popular mobile browser.
What am I the most proud of? These guys. A slightly older pic. Thanks for the ride! And remember, there's never a boring day at Opera Software.