Wednesday, 03 October 2018 06:04

Man behind Vivaldi browser says 'you don't spy on your friends'

Jon von Tetzchner: We will continue to push for regulation keeping not only our users safe, but all Internet users." Jon von Tetzchner: We will continue to push for regulation keeping not only our users safe, but all Internet users." Supplied

The company behind the Vivaldi browser says its emphasis on privacy comes from the fact that its slogan is "we are building a browser for our friends".

"Clearly privacy is a big deal for us. We are building a browser for our friends, as we consider our users our friends, and one does not spy on one's friends and we aim to keep our friends safe," Vivaldi chief executive Jon von Tetzchner told iTWire in response to queries. But, he added, this did not mean that the company had its head in the sky.

"We generate revenue of about US$1 per user on average from search deals and from some of the included bookmarks," he said, a few days after the company had released version 2.0 of the browser which is aimed at power users.

"Given the simplicity of the business model and given that it does not include in any way collection of user data, we can just focus on providing a great browser, rich in functionality, focusing on what our users want to see in a browser."

Vivaldi was founded in 2013 and is owned by its employees. "There are no external investors and we aim to keep it that way. The only funding comes from me and from the growing revenue we get from the software. The focus for the company is building great software. We do not aim to get external investors, go public or sell the company," von Tetzchner said.

The company is based in Norway and von Tetzchner said this did have an impact on its outlook. "Clearly Vivaldi being a Norwegian company, with servers in Iceland, means that we are registered and live in countries with a great focus on privacy, but we also want to take this further. We will continue to push for regulation keeping not only our users safe, but all Internet users."

Von Tetzchner said every other browser maker was seen as competition. "Our competition is Microsoft, Google, Apple, Mozilla, Opera and any other browser vendor. We do believe we have a browser that is best for most all users," he said.

Formerly with Opera, von Tetzchner said he had left that project due to disagreement with investors about the direction of the company. "Their goal was to sell the company, while I wanted us to continue to grow our user base by focusing on the needs of the user," he said.

"Six years after I left, Opera, now Otello, sold the browser business to a Chinese consortium. Otello is a now a holding company that holds the investments Opera made after I left, mostly in the mobile advertising space."

Vivaldi was started two years after von Tetzchner quit Opera. "I started Vivaldi as two years after I left Opera, it was clear that Opera was heading in a very different direction as a product company," he explained.

"We had a lot of loyal users at Opera and they were very disappointed with that direction. So was I, and the feeling was that we needed a browser that followed the principles that Opera used to follow, always placing the needs of the user first. Thus we make Vivaldi, a feature rich browser, with a lot of adaptability, so it can adapt to the needs of most all users."

Von Tetzchner said anyone could use Vivaldi. "Our goal is to become the browser of choice for all those that spend a lot of time online, but clearly everyone is welcome and we believe we have the best browser for most all users. Just test us out!" he said.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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