Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to PE a software company?

First of all, it's very interesting to revisit an old report of Internet startups happened 10 years ago. It's about that still thriving today and did well among other leading competitors including,, and

So I had a conversation with John this morning. He had read my previous post about Opera browser then he asked me "what will you do if you are Opera's new CEO". I am thinking. What to do if it's a software company that losts its steam? Is there a Private Equity firm focus on software firm with problems? What will those companies have compare to those traditional target such as retail shop who may have undervalued real estate asset though main business sucks.

Say, if the target is Opera browser (no offence, Opera folks), what could we do? So Opera clearly has a strong R&D team with browsers on both PC and mobile device for a long time. But on PC, it faces strong competition from Firefox, Microsoft IE and Maxthon. And for mobile, I doubt those phone manufactures suchas Nokia etc and Microsoft and Apple will let Opera grabe the big pie. So what option really does Opera has?

I am thinking leap beyond web  browser into the Internet service portal thing. That means, make Opera the most helpful too for Internet users. FOr example, In the status bar may automatically display new emails from my different account at Google or Yahoo. And it will display the subject/sender of new email, if any, if I move my cursor over. It also should automatically monitor most recent update of best price of a laptop. Keep in mind those browser has potential to ADD way more function than a website. They are desktop software...So go beyond web browsing. There are so many opportuniteis...

This reminds me back to 1999 when I was working at the Open Java Lab cofounded by Rich sight software (later merged with to be and Sun Micro. My team had developed a pure Java based Chinese input system and word processor on Solaris/Linux. Since Richsight also had a team receiving Chinese government funding to develop first Chinese browser, we had thought of embedding the Chinese input with the browser. At the end we had developed a simple pure java based browser with the word process and Chinese input embeded.

Sadly, never pay attention to technology anymore after it lost its founding CEO due to different view between him and the board/investors. What a pity to look back...What if Sina didn't dismiss the Chinese browser team...

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