Opera reaches out to mobility with Skyfire takeover

Norwegian web-browser company Opera Software has taken over Silicon Valley-based Skyfire Labs to move into cloud video and multimedia services, as well as penetrate the U.S. market.

Opera can now help mobile operators provide SDN (software-defined networking) services from the cloud, with optimized video delivery. Skyfire, headquartered in Mountain View, CA, claims that its Rocket Optimizer software gives mobile networks a 60-percent boost in capacity by reducing the data generated by video and other multimedia content. It can detect when quality of experience deteriorates for specific users with the company claiming it can intervene within milliseconds to boost throughput.

Skyfire also offers Skyfire Horizon, a mobile browser extension and toolbar platform that allows users to personalize their smartphone browser, in turn giving new monetization opportunities to operators.

“Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots. Skyfire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimization, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America.”

Jeffrey Glueck, CEO of Skyfire, will become EVP (Executive Vice President) of the Operator Business for Opera, and will oversee co-branded solutions. Skyfire will remain an independent entity as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Opera, and continue to develop and support the Skyfire browser.

But the two companies plan to develop joint products and in particular expand on Opera’s Web Pass, which allows consumers to purchase data plans such as an unlimited ‘day pass’ of popular apps and web sites at an affordable price, through video and data optimization. WebPass can enable new business models for operators, such as toll free data and ad-supported data.

Opera is paying for SkyFire with a mix of cash and stock, including $50 million upfront and performance based earn-out payments over three years, with the total deal likely to reach $155 million.

Opera, which began in 1994 as a research project to develop web browsers within Telenor, Norway’s leading Telco, has just reported revenue of $60.7 million for Q4 2012, up 60 percent on Q4 2011.