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Why aloofness must be at the core of every tech product

Whereby Blog
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Whereby Blog

In a world where tech articles are now our buoy to the world, what challenges and considerations are facing those who build them? Whereby’s co-founder Ingrid Odegaard met up with Jon von Tetzchner, architect of web browsers Vivaldi and Opera to talk about why aloofness matters, Norwegian work culture, and designing articles with a association of users.

I arrive Jon to chat about the role technology plays in the accepted bearings and to hear his reflections on why aloofness is only accretion in importance, decidedly with end-users acceptable more and more acquainted and anxious about how their claimed data is being used.

Ingrid Ødegaard, co-founder and chief artefact and technology administrator at Whereby:

Jon, this is the second absolute browser aggregation you’ve started. Why do you feel that it’s important to have antagonism within the browser market?

The web browser is a tool that people spend a lot of time with, and there was a time when we were absolutely quite close to only having one. If that had been the case, we would have been left with just Internet Explorer, which bedeviled the market fully for a long time. I don’t think anyone would have been happy with just one option, because even Microsoft themselves were not annoyed with Internet Explorer. It just shows the value of antagonism and how it drives the affection of software. Because of competition, we push each other! Browsers are very important because they are apparently the most used pieces of software we have. So, having a choice and array of browsers to choose from is crucial.

At Vivaldi, you work carefully with your users, adapting the browser to their needs. How do you do that and what drives your priorities?

Instead of doing what people usually do when they advance software, which is attractive at what others are doing, how people are using altered software, and relying on accumulated data to make decisions, we prefer to listen to what people say.

We have a group of volunteers called “The Sopranos” within the Vivaldi association who help us test our browser. They spend a lot of time trying to help us to help others and we about absolution builds to this group once a day or sometimes more often. We then absolution snapshots to the wider association once a week (or more) and that allows us to get connected acknowledgment on what we are doing. Our association connects in forums with almost 700.000 registered members, and they get free email and blogging casework alongside the forum access.

We have a admixture of good and bad acknowledgment which come from people who about have very strong and able opinions. Regardless of the type of feedback, it is invaluable to us because it helps us build a better product.

In general, we try to build a artefact that gives people flexibility. We all have altered ways of working. So with a tool that you use as much as a browser, being able to adapt it to your preferences is acutely important.

In this accepted crisis, a lot of people have been forced alfresco of their abundance zone and have had to analyze new tools and altered ways of working. How do you think this will affect the way companies and people coact in the long term?

A lot of people have had to work in a altered way lately. But for us who work (literally) on the internet, this way of alive isn’t new. Understandably, however, many are trying to find ways to carbon the activity of being in the office.

When faced with a difficult situation, the accustomed acknowledgment is to seek the abundance of being calm with the people we trust and are used to alive alongside. When anybody is sitting at home, we have to try and find ways to turn it into commodity absolute rather than negative. As of now, it’s my aftereffect that a lot of people are acquirements that this can absolutely work really well! If some of the new ways of alive stick, it may have accelerated a development that would have happened either way within the next three to five years.

In Vivaldi, when we have a new need or botheration to solve, we try every tool accessible to find the best fit. That’s how we ended up using Whereby as our go-to video affair tool across the company. Did you know that you can use tiled view in Vivaldi to open a video affair next to whatever web page you’re alive on? We are seeing agnate things from our new users, as other people start attractive for addition browsers. We are assured that we can be a better tool than other browsers out there. As soon as you spend more time online, you start acclimation data and acclimation what you’re doing – and you want a browser that helps you do this!

Vivaldi browser works great with Whereby video meetings
Vivaldi browser works great with Whereby video meetings, tiled video lets you open the video call next to any page you’re alive on

How do you think companies who were already alive accidentally pull ahead? They acutely have an advantage in today’s situation.

It depends on the type of company, but for us, it was quite normal to spend one day in the office and then the next at home. We didn’t skip a beat when COVID-19 struck and anybody just connected alive as normal from their homes. We have had adaptability in the abode for such a long time, and now we saw the kind of animation that gave us. About some companies, quite understandably, were not ready and had to deal with a big disruption in their operations. We even saw this with Google (because we work with Chromium), who usually have appointed releases but suddenly, they skipped one. They appear an accessible release, but then they pulled it and issued a account that said they didn’t know when they’d be back. You would think that a aggregation like Google would be ready, but it just shows that there is real change and everyone is adapting.

You afresh launched new versions on both desktop and Android which both have congenital aloofness tools. How have they been received? Was this commodity the association wanted?

Today we are seeing so much data being collected, but I accept that this commodity that has only started accident over the last few years. There is an altercation that supports data accumulating because that’s partly how the internet is funded, but it operated well as a business model before it turned into a surveillance-type backer entity. This is commodity I feel needs to be afflicted and we have been advocating the need for this to be regulated.

We delayed the antecedent Android absolution because we wanted to add a reliable tracker radar and ad blocker. We absitively to work with DuckDuckGo because we accept that their Tracker Radar is one of the best and most able as it allows us to stop a lot of that tracking that many people don’t like. Many of our association associates wanted this affection added into both versions, so we had to switch our cerebration from just browser-based, to Android, too. Alive on the Android adaptation was more arduous because we ran into issues when using Chromium, so ended up using a native UI. We wanted to make sure we did it right and that it would work really well.

I accept we have done this auspiciously because we have done it with the user in mind; each user gets to decide what they want to see, how much tracking they want to allow, and how many ads they want.

Personally, I am in the camp where I would like to see the free internet remain, but on the other hand, I don’t like tracking. I accept that adjustment is needed, however, I do not think users should have the option to choose whether they are tracked because we know that this method doesn’t work. The way that users accede and allow accolade after necessarily blockage what data they are collecting, is proof enough.

Vivaldi on Android - Whereby call
Vivaldi for Android has congenital aloofness control

There’s a saying “when you don’t pay, you are the product”. At Whereby, we find that a lot of people are absorbed in compassionate how we make money and what our buying is, which is great, because our revenues do not come from ads or affairs user data. We, and many startups like us, rely on a small admeasurement of users to pay for a better adaptation of the product. But that’s also a hard model to sustain abnormally when the big tech giants, offer the same thing for free.

This is a model that we see a lot of and is often used by big companies. Take Google as an example. Google Maps is a admirable service, but it absolutely has a dark side. In the beginning, Google offered its Maps API for free and then, after a while, started charging. It’s an able method of luring people in and, admitting Google having some austere competitors in the maps market, by alms their artefact for free it becomes very difficult for any competitors to gain traction. Ultimately, antagonism is gone. If you only have one player in the market, things start to stagnate. The more antagonism there is, the more addition you’ll have and that’s ultimately what we want to see.

Nowadays, people also focus on aloofness when attractive to use a new product. Big companies in the United States undertake practices that hinder aloofness and, in reality, should be illegal. The EU has been more accommodating to take on this fight with big companies and it’s a really good thing because we need the competition, but we also need to have regulations on the data that is calm on people. Specifically, we need to ensure that architecture a contour on a user and then administration that data is banned.

There has been a lot of talk of the issues with targeted ads in the run-up to the last US presidential election, and now there is addition one coming up. I don’t think people who are not alive in or with technology, really accept it at a deep level and may not accept why aloofness is important. What do you think is needed in order to build that understanding?

I think some countries are absolutely more avant-garde than others when it comes to acumen the value of aloofness and, as such, are already ambidextrous with the bearings far better. A lot of people, when because privacy, only think about their claimed aloofness and often achieve that they have annihilation to hide or that they simply don’t care who knows what about them, but the issue, of course, goes far deeper than this. As such, the more association can be accomplished on the use of claimed data and aloofness the better.

In my mind, the accumulating of claimed advice en masse by the likes of Facebook and Google needs to be far more heavily regulated, and power needs to be alternate to the individual, who must be fully abreast in order to be empowered. Acquaintance shows that if people accept how and why their data is being calm they are far more accommodating to comply, decidedly if it is being used in a way that is ultimately benign to them.

What do you think will happen if this is not adapted in the long-term?

We are alpha to see the after-effects of the huge amount of tracking that is happening, decidedly on how profiles are being built and how those profiles are being used to target ads appear us. Many people don’t see this as an issue, but it’s absolutely quite alarming and dangerous, alive that we are being profiled for political purposes to get us cerebration in a assertive way. This can bound turn into a battlefield and in some ways, we are already seeing that. For example, we have seen this happen in commendations to the elections.

We want our capitalism to work in a altered way rather than just accepting spammed with opinions and being manipulated into having opinions we contrarily might not have. Being placed into “boxes” based on who we are and what we think is – I think –  a austere botheration and it’s there because of the issue surrounding the accumulating of data. I also accept that this system of targeted ads is having a aftereffect for publishers, too. But the real botheration we are facing is a aftereffect of what some of the larger companies are doing; accession data. We all need to start taking our users actively because we want to abutment them, the media, and free internet content. I think adjustment is the band-aid to this and I accept that would absolutely help the smaller, high-quality publishers and journalism in accepted on the internet. I really think that needs to be dealt with.

The EU’s access with the aloofness law GDPR has gone pretty far and has even forced some global companies, who want to target or serve the EU audience, to abide by their rules. However, it seems to only be banishment companies to be cellophane about what they accumulated and give some ascendancy back to the user in what they accord to, but it doesn’t really stop tracking.

GDPR doesn’t stop tracking and I think that this is the core. I am aware that they have some rules apropos to this which may prove accessible over time, but at the moment, users are accepting prompted to accept data accumulating or cookies, and are given very little choice in the matter. I am, however, starting to get the aftereffect that anybody is accession and administration data in the same way which is, in fact, not the case. I accept there is a huge aberration amid addition that owns a website and collects advice about those people visiting the site, versus other websites which will share advice on anybody and everything, but this can sometimes be hard to tell apart because most websites use the same chat to show they are accession user data. This is wrong. In fact, I accept that if a site is accession basic website analytics, there should be no need to show or prompt the user that they are doing this, but I feel acerb that if a aggregation or website is accession advice on a deeper level and at scale to share with other parties, this should be made more apparent.

I think, decidedly the big account providers like Google, which has access to a high level of information, should notify the user that they are accession more than just basic information, but ultimately, should not be accustomed to accumulated this level of data. I don’t think people apprehend that even banks, at least in the USA, share advice on what you purchase. Your area is also being tracked inside barrio and that advice is then being used for ad targeting later. There are a lot of ideas surrounding ads in those types of settings and I think it’s a massive problem.

Further to this, I accept that the big botheration is that people look at it as a claimed botheration instead of a civic issue. The majority of the accepted public won’t be agitated by the fact that a aggregation has advice on them, but the real botheration is how the data is used and by whom. When this data is then being used to target people at scale, it’s really able and can be used to dispense people’s opinions.

Different countries currently have altered aloofness laws and there is acutely a big aberration amid the US and Europe. Some countries may have even stricter regulations, even within Europe. Here in Norway, we have been quite far ahead and the value of accuracy is within our adeptness and society. Do you think it could become an advantage for a technology aggregation to be based in a country where the adeptness and regulation/laws around aloofness are strict?

On one hand, I think people will be attractive to have access to software from companies that build ethically. On the other hand, I can see the reason as to why companies are accession and affairs data; it’s lucrative. Data is being sold and utilised in ways that can drive a lot of acquirement but, but at the same time, the acquirement return per user is very small, so affairs all of our advice for a almost small amount of money doesn’t seem to be advantageous for a small company, but big companies are acutely making a lot of money out of this.

So, when you, as a company, decide to do things more ethically, in some ways, you don’t have a benefit. However, I think that a lot of users want ethical companies because when people start seeing the aberration amid how their data is used (something that companies should be very accurate with and not misuse) versus companies which take that data and build profiles, they will start to see a very big difference. I think more and more people are acumen that this is a problem, and are now starting to select the companies that are doing the right thing.

So on to addition topic, you’ve built two great companies (Opera and Vivaldi) from blemish and both with a very strong association and also very assorted teams with lots of all-embracing people. Can you talk about the attempt that you have founded these companies on?

At the core, it’s about seeing the individuals. My teams have always been founded on the attempt of Norwegian work adeptness that includes a flat structure, breezy communication, and a strong sense of alive together. At the same time, I have always built all-embracing teams. I know that people who come from assorted countries, sometimes attempt with these attempt such as “Yes, you can talk to the boss”, “Yes, you can even tell the boss your own assessment or tell them you are not happy with their decision” and not get fired. We acclaim having discussions which are a really good thing. We’ve taken this very far, and a lot of it is about acumen that the advisers are the most important part of the organization.

When I started to build Vivaldi, we absitively that we didn’t want investors. I was lucky enough to come out of Opera with some cash, and that allows me to fund Vivaldi. With Opera, I didn’t have that choice and it went in the wrong direction. I think this was due to the fact that we had to get other investors and abominably got afflicted with the choice of investors.

Another important aspect is that Vivaldi is employee-owned. This is our company and we are building it together. We are trying to create a good aggregation culture. We are a broadcast company.  We have an HR administrator in each of our three offices. Even though we are a small startup with just over 50 employees, we still have five people that are dedicated to taking care of all the employees. I don’t think there are many companies that have that kind of ratio, but we have really, really good people alive on our employees’ wellbeing.

Anne Christiansen, one of the co-founders of Vivaldi, has worked with me at Opera. We realized that taking care of the advisers and making sure they’re happy, is an acutely important task. There are a lot of altered capacity that you’ll see that go into making people happy. It’s about things like food, adaptability and more. For example, we have a little atelier in our office for our people to bring their kids to work if there are issues with their kindergarten or school. Although we want people to work from the office, there’s also adaptability to choose to work even from home whenever necessary.

We also have regular gatherings every summer at our Addition House in the US. The house has 30 bedrooms. This encourages as many people as accessible to join us with their families. So this is absolutely not very typical where the aggregation goes to achieve to have a big party for a weekend, and people come back with headaches. In our case, it is more of a  family thing and a absolutely altered experience. We also have abate team gatherings in Iceland and Norway where we meet, work and go out to the countryside in nature. The gatherings are really important because we are not only blockage calm during work time, but are also doing things calm that result in strong bonds.

We treat our users the same way. Our users are our broadcast family that includes our testers called Sopranos, translators, and our association members. We treat them as our friends. Our alive slogan is based on a simple thought; “We are architecture a browser for our friends”. The basic assumption is that you do not spy on your friends because it’s just not nice. We listen to our accompany and take their advice, comments and questions, and even criticisms because we think criticism amidst accompany is fine.

Coming back to the topic of ownership, do you think more companies should have a model where advisers have ownership?

Yes. I really accept in making sure that anybody is part of the team. My cerebration has always been abiding and I think this is very Scandinavian in some ways, we have affairs with people that are not here for only 2 weeks or at will. We work calm with an ambition to make things work for the abiding and look for people who accept in it. That’s the basis for our relationship. I believe more companies should do that!

I think after having taken a aggregation public and going through the motions of adopting cash, when it comes down to it, the buying of the aggregation is quite often controlled by the owners. Sometimes you are afflicted with the investors, and then you end up with the aggregation going nowhere. We’ve seen this happen to so many companies in Norway and across the world; companies build to a assertive level and then they sell out.

In our case, we’ve been very clear – that’s not what we want to do and that’s not where we’re going. We don’t want to go public. We have a altered mindset. We want to build a great company. We want to build great pieces of software. But I do accept why that’s hard to do for most startups. That was the adversity I had with Opera; we needed the money and we didn’t have any other way to get the money. So I really don’t see how we could have done things differently. As a result, we ended up accepting some investors that weren’t the best.

I read on your blog that you are allotment a local football team in your local association and architecture communities seem to have been a theme throughout your career. Vivaldi started as a association and this bearings where anybody is now alive accidentally and accommodating globally, what role do you see for the community? Could it maybe even be strengthened?

One of the things we see with Whereby is how it’s alteration the lives of several of our advisers and users. The adeptness to work accidentally has accustomed them to move to a small apple where their families are or that are close to nature, with more affordable housing, accretion their all-embracing affection of life in many ways.

Communities are very important. And like you said, in my case it’s about architecture communities and acknowledging the association around me. That includes the aggregation and the people around us. In my local association in Iceland, where I come from, we’ve absitively to abutment the local football club. It’s a small association of 4,000 people with 400 kids in the club that includes more or less all the kids. The club plays a vital role in their lives, and gives them a sense of belonging. Acknowledging commodity like this is worthwhile. And it’s commodity I would like to abide doing.

In the same way, I’ve been trying to abutment startups. I am supporting the StartupLab through the Founders Fund in Oslo. I have also set up the Innovation house in Iceland that offers space for startups with no strings attached. Basically, they pay a little rent but we don’t make them stay with us by asking for a piece of their company. It’s absolutely the adverse and we’d like to abutment them in the best accessible way to give them space to grow.  It’s not about ownership. It’s about giving back.

It doesn’t have to be about return on investment, we can all just abutment each other. I think in this kind of association and with the issues we are having now on a global scale, what we are seeing on a local level is fantastic; people are going to great lengths to help each other. I accept in administration which allows you to work together.

Appear September 29, 2020 — 06:30 UTC

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