Opera cuts staff in WebKit-related restructuring

The Norwegian browser maker cut 91 jobs, some through a voluntary severance program, as part of its embrace of the open-source WebKit browser engine also used in Apple Safari and Google Chrome.

Opera browser
Opera Software

Retooling its browser with the WebKit engine isn't the only big change at Opera Software. The Norwegian company also cut its staff significantly in the last quarter of 2012.

According to the company's fourth-quarter financial results (PDF), the company had 777 employees at the end of 2011 and 931 at the end of 2012. But that figure includes 91 "employees associated with the organizational restructuring."

Moving to WebKit and dropping its in-house Presto browser engine. means Opera is cooperating with Google, Apple, and others using the open-source WebKit software, and that means the company could get away with many fewer engineering employees. When I asked last week about whether the company was cutting staff, an Opera spokeswoman said, "We have never had more people at Opera working on our products than right now."

I suspected that wasn't the whole story, and indeed it wasn't.

CEO Lars Boilesen told The Next Web the company offered voluntary severance packages to some employees in engineering, sales, and marketing because of the WebKit switch.

Opera plans to hire more staff, too, Boilesen said. The company also is growing through its acquisition of Skyfire Labs, which has video compression technology useful for congested mobile networks.

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