Opera cofounder Jon von Tetzchner debuts Vivaldi for users who want a feature-heavy browser

Vivaldi founder Jon von Tetzchner

The last thing Jon von Tetzchner wanted to do after stepping down as CEO of Opera Software in 2010 was to talk or think or hear about Internet browsers.

Today, his new company — Vivaldi — launched the first public version of its new browser.

Despite devoting most of his two decades at Opera developing its Internet browser, von Tetzchner said after leaving the game he became more convinced than ever that there was a large group of users hungry for a different experience.

Simply put, von Tetzchner felt many leading browsers were stripping away features to simplify the experience. He decided to head in the opposite direction with a new browser packed full of new tricks and personalization options.

“There is really a need for a different kind of product in the market,” von Tetzchner said in an interview. “And so we decided to build a browser with rich functionality.”

Vivaldi has been available in various updates for developers for several months now. At launch of the official Version 1.0 today, Vivaldi includes:

  1. Tab Stacks: The ability to drop tabs on each other to create a stack when you find you have to many tabs open across the browser.
  2. Tab Stack Tiling: View multiple pages open inside the browser at the same time.
  3. Notes: Mark and save excerpts of pages as notes that can also include screenshots.
  4. Web Panels: View small versions of the websites sidebar that can be browsed along with the main window.

Von Tetzchner said over time, many companies had found that most people don’t use most features. And so they began to strip out various functions.

After leaving Opera, von Tetzchner said he started hearing from people that they were missing a more complex browser with more options.

“There were a number of people who were frustrated by the decisions,” he said. “As everyone moves in the same direction, it’s natural not everyone wants the same browsers. So we want to build a browser that is rich in personality.”

While von Tetzchner is based in Boston these days, most of the company is split between Iceland (where he was born) and Norway, where Opera is also based.

For now, von Tetzchner said he is funding the company himself, so he can maintain control. And he is optimistic about revenue from partnerships like search (Microsoft’s Bing is the default search option when you download and install the browser).

Without a huge marketing budget, he’s also counting on users becoming passionate about Vivaldi to help it find an audience.

“A lot of it is about word of mouth,” he said. “And that’s how we built things at Opera. And Opera has 350 million users. From that perspective, I think we can do it again.”

Vivaldi Browser 1.0

Above: Vivaldi browser 1.0


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Germany’s Raisin expands to create first European-wide savings marketplace

Raisin

Berlin-based Raisin announced today that it launched an ambitious expansion that will make its online savings service available across Europe.

Launched in 2013, the company has been available only in Germany until now where it has attracted 35,000 customers. The company offers users a choice of saving options with banking institutions across Europe so they can find the highest possible savings rates.

The expansion is notable because Europe has a fractured financial and digital set of rules governing each country that often slows the expansion of startups. While the European Union is considering proposals to reform those rules and create a Digital Single Market, Raisin still had to overcome huge hurdles to launch this expansion.

“Even on the Internet, it’s very difficult and very, very tedious,” said Tamaz Georgadze, CEO and co-founder of Raisin. “It’s not integrated at all.”

The company was originally called Savings Global. And Georgadze said while the company still has ambitions of expanding around the world one day, the process of launching across Europe has made it clear that will remain a long-term goal for now.

Raisin is backed by Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Yuri Milner of DST.

More information:

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Fledgling tech firms make pitch to venture capitalists

Mr. Langford, 36, who is director of Lowe's Venture Capital, said that only a minute into any given entrepreneur's pitch, he can tell whether the idea has any value. In the next two allotted minutes of such presentations, he wants to know how well the startup company's principals can work together and whether they have a real commitment to the idea they're trying to fund.

Mirantis scores huge OpenStack win with VW

VW logo on car. Mirantis, one of the last pure play OpenStack startups left standing announced a major win today when VW chose them over Red Hat for an enormous OpenStack implementation. It was huge for Mirantis and for the open source OpenStack project. VW knew it wanted to run a private cloud on OpenStack. The only question was the vendor. After a call for requests for proposals it came down to two:… Read More

Tencent is bringing Path of Exile to China

Path of Exile: Ascendancy.

The world’s biggest game company is teaming up with the studio behind the game with the world’s biggest skill tree.

Tencent has agreed to distribute and localize Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile in China. The gaming giant, which owns a majority stake in League of Legends maker Riot Games and a minority stake in Epic Games, will begin alpha tests for this online action-role-playing game in May. This could bring a flood of new people to already popular free-to-play release, which has 16 million active players worldwide, an impressive feat in the $99.3 billion global game market.

“We’ve been actively working to find an appropriate publisher in China for several years now. We’re really excited to have partnered with Tencent, as they are the most powerful publisher in the region,” Grinding Gear Games general manager Chris Wilson said.

Tencent, which is also an Internet provider in China and runs the popular QQ messaging and WeChat mobile chat services, is the No. 1 public game company in the world in terms of revenue. It operates a number of online and mobile games in China. According to market research firm SuperData, Tencent’s Crossfire is the No. 2 free-to-play game in the world.

It will now use that know-how on helping Path of Exile make money in China. But unlike other free-to-play games, where microtransactions are about buying items and in-game currency that tend to give you an advantage over other players, Grinding Gear’s online ARPG sells items and effects that are cosmetic. These are all about how your character’s gear and abilities look, not about their power.


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Bernie Sanders struggled to explain his Wall Street plans in an uncomfortable new interview

Bernie Sanders had a difficult time explaining his biggest campaign platform in a tough new interview with the Daily News that was published on Monday. The Democratic presidential candidate told the New York tabloid that he didn't know whether the Federal Reserve has the authority to break up the big Wall Street banks he decries along the campaign trail.

Alchemist Accelerator: Why there’s still lots of room for disruptive martech (webinar)

brain_gears_2_heads

Q1 research from VentureBeat Insight shows that the venture capital landscape for martech shows no sign of slowing down. Join Ravi Belani, partner at Alchemist Accelerator, Adam J. Plotkin, partner at ff Venture Capital, and VB analyst Jon Cifuentes to learn about the current martech landscape and what’s getting analysts excited.

Register here for free.


Alchemist Accelerator, a platinum-rated accelerator by the MIT Seed Accelerator Rankings, has seen over 60 percent of the companies they work with go on to close an institutional round within 12 months of graduating. So Ravi Belani, managing partner of Alchemist Accelerator, dismisses concerns about the martech startup market being saturated.

“The beautiful thing about tech is that you’re creating value,” says Belani. “It’s not a zero sum game.”

The reality is that the best companies actually create the market, especially as marketing shifts from a cost function to a revenue function, absorbing functionalities that used to be covered by sales. CMOs are seeing ROI on their marketing dollars and actually driving demand and driving real revenue for companies. It’s why CMO budgets are now larger than CTO budgets.

More importantly, Belani emphasizes, is how martech is evolving to meet new demands.

“I think some of the most exciting marketing tech startups are actually transforming how these companies are making money,” he says. “I wouldn’t worry about the discourse about whether we have too many marketing companies. The bigger question is whether you’re working on something that is driving fundamental, disruptive value.”

Companies that are pursuing aggressive, ambitious ways of transforming industries, Belani says, is what gets them really excited at Alchemist. “I’m looking for companies that aren’t constrained by traditional silos of marketing and are trying to take over whole industries,” he adds.

In other words, businesses that are expanding their view beyond an individual company’s tech to start thinking about making a play toward dominating an industry category as a whole.

“The beautiful thing about the marketing function is that you own a lot of the critical data,” Belani says. “And if you can own that data layer across the entire value chain, then there are new businesses and industries that can be created in a standalone way that weren’t created before.”

In the end, Belani says, “I would not worry too much about the competition. I would just focus really heavily on what you’re uniquely suited to do and if you’re doing something that’s disruptive and driving significant value.”

The beautiful thing about fundraising, Belani says, is that it doesn’t matter what the average investor thinks of you. All that matters is finding those one or two investors that believe in what you’re doing. Your job is not to convince somebody why your idea is great. Your job is to find the investor that’s looking for you, and doesn’t know you exist.

The most successful founders are not successful because of some brilliant insight or raw intelligence, he maintains. Rather, persistence is the key.

“Literally just knocking on everybody’s door until you find the one that’s looking for you,” Belani says. “That’s your job. Your job is to just drive a process and not get knocked down.”

For more insight into industry disruption, owning your category, finding your VC match and more, make sure you make room for this 30-minute webinar.


Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.


During this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to get noticed by top VCs, straight from investors
  • Which types of companies are gaining funding
  • Where we’re seeing the biggest areas of consolidation
  • Who the most involved and most active VCs are
  • The implications for investors, vendors, and most importantly marketing technology buyers and users

Speakers:

  • Jon Cifuentes, analyst, VentureBeat
  • Ravi Belani, managing partner, Alchemist Accelerator
  • Adam J. Plotkin, partner, ff Venture Capital

Moderator:

  • Wendy Schuchart, analyst, VentureBeat

 

 


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Black Desert Online’s big sales show premium-priced MMOs aren’t dead yet

Black Desert Online is finding its audience.

Most publishers have stopped making premium-priced massively multiplayer online games, but the industry still has a number of consumers who want to pay for that content.

Korean developer Daum Games has sold more than 400,000 copies of its Black Desert Online MMO role-playing game after only a month on the market in Europe and North America. The developer brought the fantasy game to the West in March at $30, $50, and $100 pricing tiers, and it has instantly clicked with a large audience. Daum thinks the game will likely even keep growing its momentum moving forward, which is proof that the MMO market can support more than World of Warcraft and an endless pile of free-to-play competitors. In a gaming market worth $99.3 billion, Black Desert is showing that studios have different paths to profitability.

“Considering the upward trend, I expect that the game will achieve over 1 million sales this year,” Daum Games Europe chief executive Min Kim said in a statement. “What’s impressive is these figures far exceed those in the domestic market.”

One of the big takeaways about Black Desert Online is that free-to-play in its home territory of Korea. Players in that country are much more accustomed to having to pay to make decent progress in their online RPGs, but Daum points out that Western audiences are different. Many of them would rather pay up front so that they don’t have to think about spending money.

Of course, Black Desert does still have in-game purchases in the West, but a lot of that content is cosmetic. That could potentially find a lot of success here because Daum’s game is one of the better looking MMORPGs to debut in quite some time.

“A game with a buy-to-play business model normally has a much lower conversion rate for paid in-game items compared to free-to-play games,” said Kim. “But Black Desert Online is recording a much higher pay ratio than the average 11 percent normally seen in free-to-play games.”

Moving ahead, Daum will continue to support Black Desert with more content and more in-app purchases. If it brings in 1 million people, that could turn the game into an enormous success.


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