Services & Software

Opera buying Skyfire for mobile-video technology

To boost its business with mobile network operators, the Norwegian browser maker is spending up to $155 million for the Silicon Valley startup.

Opera Software

Opera Software is acquiring Skyfire Labs and its technology for squeezing video onto congested mobile-phone networks in a deal worth up to $155 million, the Norwegian browser maker said tonight.

Opera, the fifth-ranked browser maker in terms of global usage, gets paid for adapting its browser for mobile network operators and for driving searches to sites like Yandex and Google. It's been gradually expanding its business into domains such as advertising, though, and the Skyfire deal adds a new dimension to its business selling technology to operators.

"Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots," said Opera Chief Executive Lars Boilesen in a statement. "Skyfire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimization, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America. With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, we are excited to extend Opera's solutions for operators.

Skyfire's technology can cut video bandwidth and adapt quickly to sudden drops in network capacity. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company sells its technology in the Rocket Optimizer and Skyfire Horizon products.

Skyfire CEO Jeffrey Glueck will become executive vice president of Opera's operator business once the deal closes. That's expected before March 15, Opera said.

Opera is paying cash and stock for Skyfire, including $50 million up front. If the Skyfire business meets performance goals, the payments could reach $155 million.

It's not the only big change for Opera. This week it also announced it's abandoning its own browser engine and instead moving to the open-source WebKit project also at the heart of Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome.