The recent buzz in the social networking market was that Facebook was on a buying frenzy and in order to increase the number of users who access the social networking site from mobiles, they were in the market to buy Norway’s pride and joy, Opera. The price was estimated at $1 Billion USD.
It was reported that bankers familiar with the technology industry thought it to be a good fit – the social networking giant and the popular speedy mobile browser to come together to enhance the FB experience on the go.
Seeing as Opera’s reach in large parts of Asia and Europe is quite extensive, Facebook would naturally benefit from the “merger”. Tapping into the new markets from non-smartphone (feature phones) devices that come preloaded with Opera’s Mini mobile browser would mean a wider reach for the social network.
“On paper (a Facebook-Opera combination) is a good story. Opera's browser is used in feature phones, not smartphones, mainly in the emerging markets,” a second banker said. The Norwegian company’s browser, being ideally designed for mobile use only sweetens the FB deal should it come to pass.
Now especially, since Facebook’s recent public offering didn’t fare as well as hoped, the company will need to regain investors’ confidence. Shares fell further to just above $30 recently.
Not for sale
Reuters says that bankers knew that Opera had long been up for sale informally but they had ruled out rival interests from the likes of Google and Yahoo in the short term. Another source that is apparently familiar with the situation is reported to have said that it was unclear whether interest from third parties would ultimately result in closer partnerships or an outright takeover of Opera. “Opera is attracting growing interest as mobile becomes more strategic for Internet companies, but there is no ‘For Sale' sign up over the company,” the source said.
Opera officials have repeatedly declined to comment on the sale situation for now but their front man Chief Executive Lars Boilesen had stated last October that he was looking forward to further cooperation with the popular social network. “We are already Facebook's platform of distribution in emerging markets like Africa and India. A big part of the Opera Mini traffic is from Facebook. So we are already their channel in these markets,” he said in October. “We would love to cooperate with Facebook, but the same goes for Google and everyone else. There are no limits here, because we are the leading mobile client in these markets,” he added.
Opera's founder and top shareholder, Jon S. Von Tetzchner, said the firm should focus on organic growth and he was not aware of a bid and had not decided how he would react to one but that it would be, as he described it, “undemocratic” to try to block it if others supported it. Of course Google is not one to sit by ideally seeing as the search giant and Opera have had a long relationship.
Arctic Securities was reported to have said – A takeover by Facebook will likely send cold water down Google's spine.
As of now, although it seems like a good idea, from bankers and a marketing perspective for Facebook to make bid for Opera, it doesn’t seem like the Norwegian company is ready to give up its stake. Perhaps if the price is right… one never knows.