An Interview with Vivaldi's CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 25, 2018
Updated • Jul 25, 2018
Internet, Vivaldi

We had a chance to ask Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivaldi Technologies AS, some questions about the current state of the company and the browser, and its future.

Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, co-founder of Internet pioneer Opera Software, launched Vivaldi in early 2015; first as preview versions and then in April 2016 as a stable browser.

It was clear quickly that the company tried to set Vivaldi apart from other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, by giving users more options and features, and not less.

Read on to find out how Vivaldi Technologies AS is doing, and what you can expect from future versions of the browser and the company.

How are you?

Doing great, thank you! We just had the Vivaldi June gathering, which is always a great time for the team to spend time together, move projects forward and discuss future features and ideas.

How is Vivaldi Technologies AS doing?

We are doing great! We are working hard on some of the major features people are waiting for and we
are making great progress! This includes things like Sync, that will be launched soon, email client and the mobile version.

Is there anything that you would have done different in regards to launching Vivaldi if you'd have the knowledge of today?

Not really. There are always things to learn, but overall I am really happy with our progress.

How tough is it to compete with billion Dollar companies like Google or Microsoft?

Clearly it is tough to compete with large companies like Google and Microsoft. Not so much
because they are large, but rather because they own the platforms we compete on and they
are not adverse to using anti-competitive measures. At the same time we have been doing
this for a long time, first at Opera and now at Vivaldi and thus this is the world we know and
we enjoy it a lot.

Is Vivaldi's user base / revenue growing?

Yes, the user base and revenue continues to grow nicely.

Do you use Vivaldi as your main browser?

Of course! :)

Which browser do you use on mobile?

Early Vivaldi version.

Speaking of mobile browsing, is there a chance that we will get a preview of Vivaldi's mobile version this year?

That would be nice, but we will only show it when it is a shape to be shown. It would be nice if that is this year.

Is the mobile version of Vivaldi based on Chromium?


How will it distinguish itself from other mobile browsers?

Our aim is to be richer in features and better support the needs of the user, just like the desktop
version, but we do not want to say to much at this time as the browser is still in the works.

Any upcoming major (or minor) features that you could tell us about?

The big features coming up are sync, mail and mobile, but there are a lot of other ideas
that we are working on, but those we want to keep more under wraps.

Mail appears to be a feature that many users are looking forward for, any ETA on that?

It is getting closer. Many of us have been using it for quite some time now, but it still
requires some TLC. We are quite close, though.

Tell us about the features that users love most about Vivaldi.

It really depends on the user. Some love our tab handling, tab stacks, tab tiling and the like. Others love the web panels. Many love the screen capture and notes functionality. Generally people like the fact that Vivaldi is very flexible.

Is there anything that users dislike or that you found need improvement?

Every feature can be improved and we will continue to improve each and every feature, often by providing new ways to do things, without removing the old ways and we all have our preferences.

We continue to improve even our most popular features and there are a few nice improvements in our
next Vivaldi version when it comes to tab handling (resizeable tiles), panels (floating panels) and more.

Other browser companies tell us that too many options and features confuse users, and they remove or limit functionality based on that claim. Is that true in your opinion?

No. It is all a question of how you do it. Clearly it is easy to remove functionality. What is hard is to make a flexible product that can feel optimal for every user.

We do that by providing an easy to use browser that can grow with your needs. As your needs increase, Vivaldi has what you need, often behind some option or you learn a new trick that saves you time and just feels right for your use.

Today in two years, where would you like to see Vivaldi?

By that time I want us to have released all the features we are working on and a lot more. Our goal is to continue building a better browser and hopefully gain a nice user base through doing that. We are well on the way!

An Interview with Vivaldi's CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner
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An Interview with Vivaldi's CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner
We had a chance to ask Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivaldi Technologies AS, some questions about the current state of the company and the browser and its future.
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  1. Shadess said on August 3, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Vivaldi’s UI sucks, slow as hell. It really doesn’t have that many options, weirds me out how “more options” is always brought up as such a positive with Vivaldi. You can’t configure most things you could in old Opera.

    High amounts tabs and/or bookmarks still absolutely CRIPPLE Vivaldi in comparison to Chrome or FF. In general I’d just like better all around performance and actual options instead of just saying there are tons when there just isn’t that much that can be configured.

  2. K@ said on July 31, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Actually, I’ve just noticed that the menu thingy, here, doesn’t show, for me, with Vivaldi. How weird is that?

  3. K@ said on July 31, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I have to wonder why anyone has problems with Vivaldi’s speed and bugginess. I use a lot of browsers (Far too many), to check site’s I’ve created/modified, to make sure they work as I wish, with all browsers. I find Vivaldi to be as quick as any other and way faster than most. It’s been totally stable, for me, and I’ve only ever found one site that was a bit weird, with it. As Crystal said, I have ublock origin, but no other extensions.

    The only thing I’d like to see, with Vivaldi, is better cookie handling. I loved the way Opera did it, before it became Operomium. I have it set to ask me, every time, if it wants to accept cookies and have the option to check “Refuse all from this domain”. Opera v12 is still my main browser, mainly due to the fact that I use it’s e-mail client. When/if Vivaldi get their client going and give me the chance to import all my Opera mail stuff, I’ll make the permanent switch. :)

  4. sam said on July 27, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Vivaldi is an app on top of Chromium. It’s not a real Chromium fork like Brave, Yandex or Opera. So whatever promises mr Stephenson makes, I don’t believe him. Real Chromium forks need so much more work and a bigger team behind it. He clearly says that he wouldn’t have done anything different if he had the knowledge of today, so Vivaldi will always be slow and buggy.

  5. crystal said on July 27, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    I use most of the browsers, both on Win10 and Linux. I have used Vivaldi since day one and find its performance to be excellent. It is very configurable and stable. The only extension I have installed is ublock origin, as that is the only one I really need with this browser.
    I appreciate the “vibe” of the Vivaldi community and staff, as well as the intent and direction.

  6. nosamu said on July 26, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I was a Vivaldi user for many months, but I recently switched back to Firefox because of Vivaldi’s poor download management. I download quite a few files each day and my downloads list eventually becomes quite long. And when I have a long enough download list, the browser’s address bar becomes unresponsive for several seconds upon browser startup. I can type in the address bar but cannot search or navigate to websites. Clearing my download history immediately fixes the problem. This is an extremely annoying issue that hasn’t been fixed in the months since I reported it.
    Additionally, the downloads panel includes a “Remove all finished” button which when clicked irretrievably deletes download history – without asking the user for any confirmation. I’d appreciate if some confirmation prompt was added so it wasn’t so easy for me to accidentally delete my download history.

    I hope the Vivaldi team reads this. I love many of Vivaldi’s features and hope to use it again in the future.

  7. Mike W. said on July 25, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Nice to have interviews like this on the site, hopefully this will become a semi-regular thing.

    In regards to Vivaldi, I wish I were more excited by its development. While I love the idea behind Vivaldi, I still find performance of the browser is severely lacking in comparison to Vivaldi’s competitors. Firefox is faster and smoother, Opera is faster and smoother, Brave is faster and smoother, hell Edge is faster and smoother.

    Now, I could give the developers a break on the performance because I understand that Vivaldi is prioritizing features over performance and the development team of Vivaldi is likely significantly smaller than any of the (wealthier) competitors I listed above, but still….It would be nice to see Vivaldi start to take the performance of the browser a bit more seriously.

  8. Cim said on July 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I haven’t been this excited over a browser since the old “Pre-Chromatized” Opera (Presto) browser of which I was a huge fan. Since then, I’ve been wandering the wilderness among lots of different browsers – I’ve stayed mainly with Firefox and Chrome – both great browsers – I even tried the earlier version of Vivaldi but wasn’t that impressed with it until I tested Vivaldi version 1.15 for a couple of weeks and fell in love with it.

    Vivaldi is just as fast if not faster and snappier than FireFox and Chrome. I really appreciate their focus on privacy. I really like all the built-in functionality so that I don’t have to continue installing as many 3rd-party extensions. It’s been very stable on my system as I’ve never had issues using it. It uses less system resources and has tons of options to customize the browsers the way I want. It is definitely the best browser for me and is now my default browser. I could not be happier with a browser than I am with Vivaldi.

  9. Idea Man said on July 25, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Tor integration in private tabs in Vivaldi – anyone?

    1. An_dz said on July 25, 2018 at 10:55 pm

      I don’t think they have enough people to maintain that yet, they already have lots of other features to maintain.

  10. Richard Allen said on July 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I wish you had asked about future plans with their update schedule. Vivaldi Stable is still on the chromium v65 base, the Vivaldi snapshot was recently updated to the v67 base and Chrome Stable was just updated to v68. Sure, the security patches are getting ported into Vivaldi but there are performance improvements and flags available that Vivaldi is doing without. And since Vivaldi isn’t using the most current chromium base it can potentially throw off any comparisons.

    All that said, I like Vivaldi and think it’s a viable alternative to Chrome. At least for me it is.

    Browser startup is Always faster than Chrome, 15-20% faster. I’m measuring till all of the extensions are loaded and working. All of my browsers open one tab to the Startpage search engine with uBO hiding some elements, No-Script has to enable javascript and Stylus has to load a small userstyle of mine that changes the background color of the search box input field. So… I can see when 3 different extensions are loaded and working. Vivaldi always loads working extensions at startup, always. At least 40% of the time Chrome fails to load working extensions. And I’m guessing 1-5% of the time FF fails to load working extensions. That might be a concern for those opening multiple tabs at startup. I’ve been complaining about extensions not working at startup since last year. Job Well Done by the Vivaldi team. I’m impressed!!!

    Page load times are equal to and often faster than Chrome. Chrome is sometimes faster but the point is is that Vivaldi is doing very well and has improved from just a few months ago.

    I noticed that the dev tools doesn’t always remember the window size between browser sessions so that’s a minor annoyance, I use a seperate window for the dev tools. Maybe that was caused by me closing the browser without closing the dev tools first? Just guessing.

    Memory used is slightly better now. Vivaldi, 12 tabs, 1.38GB > Chrome, 12 tabs, 1.18GB. Because I have 16GB of system memory I personally don’t care but memory use for some can be a problem with chromium browsers. Both Vivaldi and Chrome have site isolation disabled otherwise they would have been higher.

    The session manager needs some work. Opened up a 12 tab saved session and when I went and clicked on each tab, using a 5 second delay between tabs, it crashed on me twice. After the third attempt, I waited one minute and got a screenshot of it using 2.1GB of memory. Whoops.

    I saw some weirdness in the tab favicons in one screenshot and excluding the session manager problems, I think Vivaldi is working very well! I am using the beta slash snapshot version so I expect some bugs. I’ve been enjoying watching the progress and look forward to the future developments!

  11. Sojiro84 said on July 25, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I can’t live without Vivaldi. Sure, the performance might be a bit slower then Chrome, and Firefox is for sure faster, but I can’t use those other browsers anymore.

    I want a browser with features I can use if I want too. Chrome and Firefox are so barren of options, it’s just not fun in those browsers to browse the internet with.

    Vivaldi has a ton of options out of the box, no extensions needed. For me, I love the sidebar and the tab handling the most. Oh, and let’s not forget the ability to customize the browsers theme to your liking.

    I can’t wait for the mobile version of Vivaldi. I really don’t want to use Chrome or the Samsung browsers.

    1. Weilan said on July 25, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Vivaldi doesn’t need extensions? So you mean to tell me Vivaldi can now block ads and popups out of the box… hmm, weird, that’s news to me.

      1. Clairvaux said on July 25, 2018 at 7:00 pm

        Vivaldi has a lesser need for extensions than others, everything being equal. We’re talking different concepts, here. Obviously, barebones Vivaldi won’t be enough for some people, the way barebones Firefox and Chrome won’t be enough for others. While being fine for many basic users.

        Another reason to support the features-rich concept is security :

  12. Clairvaux said on July 25, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    It’s nice to have interviews as well.

  13. Anonymous said on July 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    For those of us out of the loop, the missing question is: How does Vivaldi Technologies AS make money, if at all?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      They have partner agreements with search providers and others, just like other browser makers.

  14. noe said on July 25, 2018 at 8:41 am

    tetzchner hangs on earlier times that are long gone and outdated. without presto, vivaldi is nothing more than another (in this case even more overloaded) blink – browser. with his now-deceased baby opera, which I even used despite an advertising banner, vivaldi has nothing to do anymore. and in comparison with firefox quantum times, the statements of the vivaldi team on the subject of pricacy are weak, very weak (see their blog and the browser itself).

    1. Weilan said on July 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

      I can just use Chrome and install extensions that cover all of Vivaldi’s features.

      The difference is if you use Chrome stable, you can have a choice between a bare-bones working browser and feature-rich (with extensions) browser.

      With Vivaldi “stable” you get an unstable browser that is bloated with features you won’t ever use, has 6-month old issues they never bothered to fix and you still have to install extensions you need to compensate for lack of features… kinda ironic for a… “feature-rich” browser as Vivaldi.

      Not to mention as seen in the screenshot, Vivaldi looks like a cardboard cutout, looks even worse than Windows 10.

  15. Ivan said on July 25, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I would’ve liked a paragraph about: why he split off from Opera to make Vivaldi.

    1. An_dz said on July 25, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Because Opera investors forced him to quit to ditch Presto. When Opera announced it Jon had already left months before.

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