opra20191231_20f.htm

 

Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 20-F

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

   

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

   

 

For the transition period from to

OR

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

   

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report

 

Commission file number: 001-38588

 

Opera Limited

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)

 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

Vitaminveien 4, 0485 Oslo, Norway

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

Mr. Yahui Zhou, Chief Executive Officer

c/o Aaron McParlan, General Counsel

Vitaminveien 4, 0485 Oslo, Norway

 

Tel: +47 2369-2400

 

E-mail: legal@opera.com

 

 

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each representing

two ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share

OPRA

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

 

 

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

  

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the Issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

 

237,826,326 ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share, as of December 31, 2019

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ☐    No    ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.   Yes   ☒   No  ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).   Yes  ☒   No  ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  ☐

Accelerated filer ☒

Non-accelerated filer  ☐

Emerging growth company ☒

 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards † provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.   ☐

 

† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.                          ☐     

                             

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP   ☐    International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board  ☒  Other  ☐

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

Item 17  ☐    Item 18  ☐

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.    Yes  ☐    No  ☐

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Page

 

 

CONVENTIONS THAT APPLY TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

4

 

 

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

5

 

 

PART I

6

 

 

ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

6

 

 

ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

6

 

 

ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION

6

 

 

ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

30

 

 

ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

42

 

 

ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

42

 

 

ITEM 6. DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

59

 

 

ITEM 7. MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

67

 

 

ITEM 8. FINANCIAL INFORMATION

69

 

 

ITEM 9. THE OFFER AND LISTING

70

 

 

ITEM 10. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

70

 

 

ITEM 11. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

77

 

 

ITEM 12. DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

79

 

 

PART II

80

 

 

ITEM 13. DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

80

 

 

ITEM 14. MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

80

 

 

ITEM 15. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

81

 

 

ITEM 16A. AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

82

 

 

ITEM 16B. CODE OF ETHICS

82

 

 

ITEM 16C. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

83

 

 

ITEM 16D. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

83

 

 

ITEM 16E. PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

83

 

 

ITEM 16F. CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

84

 

 

ITEM 16G. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

84

 

 

ITEM 16H. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

84

 

 

PART III

84

 

 

ITEM 17 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

84

 

 

ITEM 18 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

84

 

 

ITEM 19. EXHIBITS

85

 

 

CONVENTIONS THAT APPLY TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

 

Unless otherwise indicated and except where the context otherwise requires:

 

 

“active user” refers to a user, calculated based on device identification, that has accessed one of our mobile browsers, PC browsers or other applications at least once during a given period. A unique user that is active in more than one of the applications on our platform is counted as more than one active user;

     
 

“ADSs” refer to American depositary shares, each of which represents two ordinary shares;

     
 

“China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purpose of this annual report only, Taiwan and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau;

     
 

“MAUs” or “monthly active users” refers to the average number of active users during each month (within a given period);

     
 

“shares” or “ordinary shares” refers to our ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

     
 

“South Asia” comprises the four distinct markets of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka;

     
 

“Southeast Asia” comprises the six distinct markets of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar;

     
 

“US$,” “U.S. Dollars,” “$” and “dollars” refer to the legal currency of the United States; and

     
 

“we,” “us,” “our company,” “the Group,” “our group,” “our” or “Opera” refers to Opera Limited†, an exempt company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands with limited liability that is the holding company of our group.

 

† On June 25, 2018, Opera Limited became our holding company by way of an exchange of equity interests in which the existing members of Kunhoo Software LLC exchanged their interests in Kunhoo Software LLC for ordinary shares having substantially the same rights in Opera Limited. At such time, the historical consolidated financial statements of Kunhoo Software LLC became those of Opera Limited. For convenience, we refer herein to such historical consolidated financial statements as being those of Opera Limited. Unless stated otherwise, all share and per share information for periods prior to June 25, 2018 reflect the capitalization of Opera Limited.

 

All discrepancies in any table between the amounts identified as total amounts and the sum of the amounts listed therein are due to rounding.

 

 

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of current or historical facts are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

 

In some cases, you can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “likely to” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements about:

 

 

our goals and strategies;

     
 

our expected development and launch, and market acceptance, of our products and services;

     
 

our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;

     
 

the expected growth in, and market size of, the global internet industry;

     
 

expected changes in our revenues, costs or expenditures;

     
 

our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our brand, platforms and services;

     
 

our expectations regarding growth in our user base and level of engagement;

     
 

our ability to attract, retain and monetize users;

     
 

our ability to continue to develop new technologies and/or upgrade our existing technologies;

     
 

growth of and trends of competition in our industry;

     
 

government policies and regulations relating to our industry; and

     
 

general economic and business conditions in the markets we have businesses.

 

You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. Other sections of this annual report include additional factors which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

 

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

This annual report also contains statistical data and estimates that we obtained from industry publications and reports generated by government or third-party providers of market intelligence. Although we have not independently verified the data, we believe that the publications and reports are reliable. However, the statistical data and estimates in these publications and reports are based on a number of assumptions and if any one or more of the assumptions underlying the market data are later found to be incorrect, actual results may differ from the projections based on these assumptions. In addition, due to the rapidly evolving nature of the online content consumption and e-commerce industries, projections or estimates about our business and financial prospects involve significant risks and uncertainties. 

 

 

PART I

 

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

 

A.

Selected Financial Data

 

The following summary historical consolidated statements of operations data for the period from January 1, 2016 to November 3, 2016 (the “Predecessor”) and from the inception of Opera Limited (as successor-in-interest to Kunhoo Software LLC) on July 26, 2016 to December 31, 2016 and for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and summary consolidated statements of financial position data as of December 31, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 (the “Successor”), have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements. The consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IFRS.

 

The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes and the “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for future periods.

 

 Summary Consolidated Statement of Operations

 

   

2016

   

2017

   

2018

   

2019

 
   

Predecessor for the period from January 1, 2016 to November 3, 2016

   

Successor Group since inception on July 26, 2016 to December 31, 2016

   

Unaudited pro forma consolidated Group for the year ended December 31, 2016 (1)

   

Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2017

   

Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2018 (3)

   

Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2019 (4)

 
                                                 
           

(US$ in thousands, except per share and ADS amounts)

 
                                                 

Revenue

    88,518       18,767       107,285       128,893       172,276       334,855  

Other income

    -       -       -       5,460       -       -  
                                                 

Operating expenses:

                                               

Cost of revenue (5)

    (638 )     (469 )     (1,107 )     (3,969 )     (20,009 )     (73,991 )

Personnel expenses including share-based remuneration

    (35,493 )     (5,972 )     (41,465 )     (42,134 )     (34,683 )     (61,029 )

Marketing and distribution expense

    -       -       (30,530 )     (30,971 )     (31,381 )     (73,150 )

Credit loss expense

    -       -       866       (1,837 )     678       (577 )
Other changes in fair value of loans to customers     -       -       -       -       (528)       (54,302 )

Depreciation and amortization

    (9,586 )     (3,082 )     (16,712 )     (16,604 )     (12,694 )     (18,933 )

Other expenses

    (42,486 )     (19,032 )     (25,754 )     (26,536 )     (28,359 )     (32,210 )

Restructuring costs

    (3,911 )     -       (3,911 )     (3,240 )     -       -  

Total operating expenses

    (92,113 )     (28,555 )     (118,613 )     (124,114 )     (126,975 )     (314,192 )

Operating profit (loss)

    (3,595 )     (9,788 )     (11,328 )     10,239       45,301       20,662  
                                                 

Share of net income (loss) of associates and joint ventures

    (2,664 )     (237 )     (2,901 )     (1,670 )     (3,248 )     (3,818)  
Change in fair value of preferred shares in associates     -       -       -       -       -       37,900  

 

 

    2016     2017     2018     2019  
    Predecessor for the period from January 1, 2016 to November 3, 2016     Successor Group since inception on July 26, 2016 to December 31, 2016     Unaudited pro forma consolidated Group for the year ended December 31, 2016 (1)     Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2017     Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2018 (3)     Successor Group for the year ended December 31, 2019 (4)  
                                                 
            (US$ in thousands, except per share and ADS amounts)  
                                                 

Net finance income (expense):

                                               

Finance income

    -       37       37       1,054       1,637       10,530  

Finance expense

    (1,378 )     (24 )     (1,402 )     (238 )     (1,695 )     (1,505 )

Net foreign exchange gain (loss)

    (1,212 )     212       (1,000 )     (1,881 )     (354 )     (269 )

Net finance income (expense)

    (2,590 )     225       (2,365 )     (1,065 )     (412 )     8,756  

Net income (loss) before income taxes

    (8,849 )     (9,800 )     (16,594 )     7,504       41,641       63,500  

Income tax (expense) benefit

    743       2,096       3,850       (1,440 )     (6,481 )     (5,602 )

Net income (loss)

    (8,106 )     (7,704 )     (12,744 )     6,064       35,160       57,899  
                                                 

Basic and diluted income (loss) per share

                                               

Basic, US$

    (0.04 )     (0.04 )     (0.07 )     0.03       0.17       0.26  

Diluted, US$

    (0.04 )     (0.04 )     (0.07 )     0.03       0.17       0.25  
                                                 

Basic and diluted income (loss) per ADS

                                               

Basic, US$

    (0.09 )     (0.08 )     (0.13 )     0.06       0.35       0.52  

Diluted, US$

    (0.09 )     (0.08 )     (0.13 )     0.06       0.34       0.51  
                                                 

Non-IFRS Financial Measures

                                               

Adjusted EBITDA (2)

    10,816       (6,706 )     10,210       34,119       65,794       45,523  

Adjusted net income (loss) (2)

    (7,229 )     (8,264 )     (9,226 )     17,796       46,136       67,635  

 


 

(1)

Including pro forma adjustments. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Unaudited Pro Forma Consolidated Financial Information” in our 2018 Form 20-F filed with the SEC on April 17, 2019.

   

(2)

To see how we define and calculate adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net income (loss), a reconciliation between adjusted EBITDA and net income (loss), and adjusted net income (loss) and net income (loss) (for each, the most directly comparable IFRS financial measures) and a discussion about the limitations of non-IFRS financial measures, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Non-IFRS Financial Measures.”

   

(3)

Effective January 1, 2018, we adopted IFRS 9 and IFRS 15.

   

(4)

Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted IFRS 16. The impact of adopting this standard is described in Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

   
(5) Certain expenses in the comparative periods have been reclassified as Cost of revenue. See Note 7 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for more details. 

 

 

Summary Consolidated Statement of Financial Position

 

   

As of December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2017

   

2018

   

2019

 
   

(US$ in thousands)

 

Selected Consolidated Statement of Financial Position Data:

                               

Total non-current assets

    561,511       561,989       587,213       642,293  

Intangible assets

    124,536       118,620       115,444       110,807  

Investments in associates and joint ventures

    1,043       5,517       35,060       76,300  

Total current assets

    78,967       74,311       238,090       418,327  

Loans to customers

    -       -       3,092       93,115  

Cash and cash equivalents

    34,181       33,207       177,873       139,487  

Marketable securities

    -       -       1,165       42,146  

Total cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities

    34,181       33,207       179,038       181,633  

Total assets

    640,479       636,300       825,303       1.060,620  

Total equity

    568,197       583,503       775,460       912,206  

Total non-current liabilities

    19,010       15,947       15,841       19,844  

Total current liabilities

    53,272       36,850       34,002       128,570  

Total liabilities

    72,282       52,797       49,843       148,414  

Total equity and liabilities

    640,479       636,300       825,303       1.060,620  

 

B.

Capitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not applicable.

 

C.

Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not applicable.

 

D.

Risk Factors

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

 

We may fail to maintain or grow the size of our user base or the level of engagement of our users.

 

The size and engagement level of our user base are critical to our success. Our business and financial performance have been and will continue to be significantly affected by our success in adding, retaining and engaging active users. We continue to invest significant resources to grow our user base and increase user engagement, whether through innovations, providing new or improved content or services, marketing efforts or other means. While our user base has expanded significantly in the last three years, we cannot assure you that our user base and engagement levels will continue growing at satisfactory rates, or at all. Our user growth and engagement could be adversely affected if:

 

 

we fail to maintain the popularity of our platforms among users;

     
 

we are unable to continue to develop products that work with a variety of mobile operating systems, networks and smartphones;

     
 

we are unable to maintain the quality of our existing content and services;

     
 

we are unsuccessful in innovating or introducing new, best-in-class content and services;

     
 

we fail to adapt to changes in user preferences, market trends or advancements in technology;

     
 

our partners who provide content to Opera News and our other platform applications do not create content that is engaging, useful, or relevant to users;

     
 

our partners who provide content to Opera News and our other platform applications decide not to renew agreements or not to devote their resources to creating engaging content;

     
 

our global distribution partners decide not to distribute our software on their products or platforms;

     
 

we fail to provide adequate service to users or partners;

 

 

 

technical or other problems prevent us from delivering our content or services in a timely and reliable manner or otherwise affect the user experience;

     
 

there are user concerns related to privacy, safety, fund security or other factors;

     
 

there are adverse changes to our platforms that are mandated by, or that we elect to make to address, legislation, regulation or litigation, including settlements or consent decrees;

     
 

we fail to maintain the brand image of our platforms or our reputation is damaged; or

     
 

there are unexpected changes to the demographic trends or economic development in the markets that we compete in.

  

Our efforts to avoid or address any of these events could require us to incur substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our content, services or platforms. If we fail to retain or continue growing our user base, or if our users reduce their engagement with our platforms, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We face intense competition in a number of spaces and industries and if we do not continue to innovate and provide products and services that meet the needs of our users, we may not remain competitive.

 

We face intense competition in all of the products and services we offer. In the browser space, we generally compete with other global browser developers, including Google (Chrome browser), Apple (Safari browser) and Microsoft (Internet Explorer and Edge browsers) and with other regional internet companies that have strong positions in particular countries. In the content space, we have faced significant competition from other internet companies promoting their own content products and services globally, including Google and Apple, and traditional media such as local and global newspapers and magazines. In addition, we compete with all major internet companies for user attention and advertising spend. Moreover, in emerging international markets, where mobile devices often lack large storage capabilities, we may compete with other applications for the limited space available on a user’s mobile device. As we introduce new products, as our existing products evolve, or as other companies introduce new products and services, we may become subject to additional competition. For example, in 2018, we launched the Opera News App, our first standalone AI-powered news-publishing app and we entered the fintech business with the acquisition of OKash. For details relating to the increasing competition we may face in our fintech operations, see “--As we expand our fintech business operation, we may face increasing competition from local and international competitors, and if we do not compete effectively, our operating results could be materially and adversely affected.” While we view our new products as an extension of Opera’s mobile product portfolio, adding new products and services subjects us to additional competition and new competitors.

 

Many of our current and potential competitors have significantly greater resources and broader global recognition and occupy better competitive positions in certain markets than we do. These factors may allow our competitors to respond to new or emerging technologies and changes in market requirements better than we can. Our competitors may also develop products, features or services that are similar to ours or that achieve greater market acceptance. These products, features and services may undertake more far-reaching and successful product development efforts or marketing campaigns, or may adopt more aggressive pricing policies. In addition, our partners may use information that we share with them to develop or work with competitors to develop products or features that compete with us. Certain competitors, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, could use strong or dominant positions in one or more markets to gain competitive advantages against us in areas where we operate, including by:

 

 

integrating competing features into products they control such as web browsers or mobile device operating systems;

     
 

making acquisitions for similar or complementary products or services; or

     
 

impeding Opera’s accessibility and usability by modifying or imposing use restrictions on existing hardware and software on which the Opera application operates or upon which it depends.

 

As a result, our competitors may acquire and engage users at the expense of our user growth or engagement, which may seriously harm our business.

 

 

We believe that our ability to compete effectively depends on many factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

 

the usefulness, novelty, performance and reliability of our products compared to our competitors;

     
 

the size and demographics of our MAUs;

     
 

the timing and market acceptance of our products, including developments and enhancements of our competitors’ products;

     
 

our ability to monetize our products;

     
 

the effectiveness of our marketing and distribution teams;

     
 

our ability to establish and maintain partners’ interest in using Opera;

     
 

the frequency, relative prominence and type of advertisements displayed on our applications or by our competitors;

     
 

the effectiveness of our customer service and support efforts;

     
 

the effectiveness of our marketing activities;

     
 

changes as a result of legislation, regulatory authorities or litigation, including settlements and consent decrees, some of which may have a disproportionate effect on us;

     
 

acquisitions or consolidation within the industries in which we operate;

     
 

our ability to attract, retain and motivate talented employees, particularly engineers and sales personnel;

     
 

our ability to cost-effectively manage and scale our rapidly growing operations; and

     
 

our reputation and brand strength relative to our competitors.

 

If we cannot effectively compete, our user engagement may decrease, which could make us less attractive to users, advertisers and partners and seriously harm our business.

 

We may fail to keep up with rapid changes in technologies and mobile devices.

 

The PC and mobile internet industry is characterized by rapid technological changes. Our future success will depend on our ability to respond to rapidly changing technologies, adapt our services to evolving industry standards and improve the performance and reliability of our products and services. Our failure to adapt to such changes could harm our business. In addition, changes in mobile devices resulting from technological development may also adversely affect our business. If we are slow to develop new products and services for the latest mobile devices, or if the products and services we develop are not widely accepted and used by mobile device users, we may not be able to capture a significant share of this increasingly important market. In addition, the widespread adoption of new internet, mobile, networking or telecommunications technologies or other technological changes could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our products, services or infrastructure. If we fail to keep up with rapid technological changes to remain competitive, our future success may be adversely affected.

 

We may not succeed in managing or expanding our business across the expansive and diverse markets that we operate in.

 

Our business has become increasingly complex as we have expanded the markets in which we operate, the variety of products and services we offer and the overall scale of our operations. We have expanded and expect to continue to expand our headcount, office facilities and infrastructure. As our operations continue to expand, our technology infrastructure systems and corporate functions will need to be scaled to support our operations, and if they fail to do so, it could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The markets where we operate are diverse and fragmented, with varying levels of economic and infrastructure development and distinct legal and regulatory systems, and do not operate seamlessly across borders as a single or common market. Managing our growing businesses across these emerging markets requires considerable management attention and resources. Entering into new markets also involves various legal and regulatory risks and requires us to obtain various licenses and permits. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain, renew or obtain such licenses or permits on commercially reasonable terms or at all. We may incur additional compliance costs and may be subject to regulatory action or be ordered to cease our operations in certain markets if we fail to maintain, renew or obtain any material license or permit. Should we choose to expand into additional markets, these complexities and challenges could further increase. Because each market presents its own unique challenges, the scalability of our business is dependent on our ability to tailor our content and services to this diversity.

 

 

Our growing multi-market operations also require that we incur certain additional costs, including costs relating to staffing, logistics, intellectual property protection, tariffs and other trade barriers. Moreover, we may become subject to risks associated with:

 

 

recruiting and retaining talented and capable management and employees in various markets;

     
 

challenges caused by distance, language and cultural differences;

     
 

providing content and services that appeal to the tastes and preferences of users in multiple markets;

     
 

implementing our businesses in a manner that complies with local laws and practices, which may differ significantly from market to market;

     
 

maintaining adequate internal and accounting control across various markets, each with its own accounting principles that must be reconciled to IFRS upon consolidation;

     
 

currency exchange rate fluctuations;

     
 

protectionist laws and business practices;

     
 

complex local tax regimes;

     
 

potential political, economic and social instability;

     
 

potential local government initiatives to restrict access to our products and services; and

     
 

higher costs associated with doing business in multiple markets.

 

Any of the foregoing could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may not be able to expand our fintech business effectively and successfully.

 

In December 2018, we acquired a fintech business that had already launched in Kenya. We have since grown this business in Kenya and later in Nigeria and India. This app-based microfinance service offers instant microcredit to approved borrowers under “OKash” and other local brands. In 2019, revenue from our microfinance business was US$128.4 million, representing 38.3% of our total revenue. We have limited experience in most aspects of the operation of our microfinance business, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects. Failure to manage or grow our fintech business may have material adverse effects on our overall financial position and results of operations.

 

We bear the credit risk of our borrowers. As we carry out our plans to expand our microfinance business and offer new loan products to an expanding borrower base, we may not be able to effectively manage the credit risks associated with the fintech business. Furthermore, we are subject to the risk of fraudulent activity associated with borrowers and parties handling borrower information. In addition, our business is subject to credit cycles associated with the volatility of the general economy in the markets in which we operate our fintech business, which are generally developing markets and could be impacted by a wide array of factors including commodity prices, political instability or health crises. If economic conditions deteriorate, we may face an increased risk of default or borrower delinquency, which will result in lower returns or losses.

 

In order to maintain and increase the amount of loans we extend to borrowers, we must continue to offer competitive products and broaden our prospective borrower base, which may be affected by several factors, including our brand recognition and reputation, the financing fee rate charged, credit terms offered and our efficiency in engaging prospective borrowers. New product offerings may not be received favorably by consumers which may impact both our reputation and the strength of our brand. If we fail to promote our loan products and brand in an effective and cost-efficient ways, our business and results of operations may be harmed. As we expand our fintech business to new markets, we may not be able to effectively navigate regulatory rules in new regions and we may have to incur increasing expenses to establish our brand, attract new borrowers and comply with local laws and regulations. In addition, we currently utilize our own capital to fund loans, which limits our ability to scale our microfinance business. We may require external funding to fund and expand our microfinance business, which may not be available on terms that will allow us to extend loans to customers at a competitive rate or at all. Moreover, we plan to expand our fintech business beyond microfinance and we may not be successful due to our limited experience in those areas, which could impact our financial results.

 

As we expand our fintech business operation, we may face increasing competition from local and international competitors.

 

In 2019, we scaled our microfinance business in Kenya and further expanded our footprint to India. The financial service industry in these two countries are relatively new, evolving and highly competitive. Our competitors may operate different business models, have different cost structures or participate selectively in different market segments. They may ultimately prove more successful or more adaptable to consumer demand and new regulatory, technological and other developments. Some of our current and potential competitors have significantly more financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do and may be able to devote greater resources to the development, promotion, sale and support of their product and service offerings. Our competitors may also have longer operating history, more extensive borrower bases or funding sources, greater brand recognition and brand loyalty and broader relationships with funding partners than us. Additionally, a current or potential competitor may acquire, or form a strategic alliance with, one or more of our competitors. Our competitors may be better at developing new products, offering more attractive fees, responding more quickly to new technologies and undertaking more extensive and effective marketing campaigns. Furthermore, in light of the low barriers to entry in the fintech and microlending industry, more players may enter this market and increase the level of competition. We anticipate that more established internet, technology and financial services companies that possess large, existing user bases, substantial financial resources and established distribution channels may also enter the market in the future. In response to competition and in order to grow or maintain the amount of transactions facilitated to borrowers, we may have to offer lower initiation fees, which could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. If we are unable to compete with such companies and meet the need for innovation in our industry, the demand for our credit products could stagnate or substantially decline, which could harm our business and results of operations.

 

 

A small number of business partners contribute a significant portion of our revenues.

 

A small number of business partners contribute a significant portion of our revenues, and we have been continuously working on diversifying our partner base, and have seen a decrease in revenue concentration. Our largest business partner, Google contributed approximately 22.3% of our revenues in 2019, compared to 39.4% in 2018, and 43.2% in 2017. Although we continue to diversify our partner base, we cannot assure you that a limited number of partners will not continue to contribute a significant portion of our revenues for the near future. Consequently, any of the following events may materially and adversely impact our business, results of operations and growth prospects:

 

 

reduction, delay or cancellation of services by our large search partners;

     
 

failure by one or more of our large search partners to pay for our services; or

     
 

loss of one or more of our significant search customers and any failure to identify and acquire additional or replacement partners.

 

In addition, in 2019, 69.5% of our revenues were generated from customers and monetization partners domiciled in four geographic markets, with 29.4%, 24.4%, 10.5% and 5.2% from India, Ireland, Kenya and Russia respectively. During 2018, 54.7% of our revenues were generated from monetization partners domiciled in two geographic markets, with 44.6% and 10.1% from Ireland and Russia, respectively. During 2017, our monetization partners domiciled in Ireland and Russia contributed 49.0% and 14.2% of our revenues, respectively. This geographic concentration is not necessarily an indication of where user activity occurs as our end users are located across the world, but is affected by the geographic concentration of domicile among certain of our primary monetization partners. We are especially exposed to risks related to the economic conditions, regional specific legislation and tax law of the identified countries.

 

We rely on our users’ searches on Opera browsers for a substantial portion of our revenues.

 

We share in the revenue generated by search partners when our users conduct searches initiated within the URL bar or search boxes embedded in our PC and mobile browsers. Revenue generated from search partners accounted for 52.9%, 46.6% and 25.7% of our total revenue in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. The revenue sharing and fee arrangements with these search partners are subject to change. If our search partners reduce or discontinue their advertising spending with us, we fail to attract new search or advertising partners, our search partners see reduced monetization or the fees we receive for the traffic we refer to our search partners significantly decrease, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our existing business and our expansion strategy depend on certain key collaborative arrangements, and we may be unable to maintain or develop these relationships.

 

Our existing business, and our strategy for developing our business, involve maintaining and developing various types of collaborations with third parties, which provide us with access to additional user traffic, search services, products and technology. For example, our collaborations with Google and Yandex allow us to provide our users with best-in-class search services. We also work with leading device manufacturers and chipset vendors to ensure cost-efficient and reliable distribution of our products and services. Moreover, as part of our focus on expanding our AI capabilities, we formed strong relationships with high profile media and independent content providers to obtain comprehensive news and other content that we can make available to users on our platform. We consider these collaborations to be important to our ability to deliver attractive services, products and content offerings to our users, in order to maintain and expand our user and advertiser bases, and we believe that it will continue to be important for us to develop similar partnerships in the future. Our inability to maintain and grow such relationships could have an adverse impact on our existing business and our growth prospects.

 

We also have existing, and hope to develop additional, relationships with mobile device manufacturers for pre-installation of our browsers and standalone news app. If we are unable to maintain and expand such relationships, the quality and reach of delivery of our services will be adversely affected, and it may also be difficult for us to maintain and expand our user base and enhance awareness of our brand. In addition, our competitors may establish the same relationships that we have, which would diminish any advantage we might otherwise gain from these relationships.

 

We may fail to maintain and expand our collaborations with third party operators of internet properties.

 

We place promotional links to some of our search engine providers on our browsers, thereby providing easy access to premier search services for our users and increasing our search revenues. Moreover, we rely on third party operators of internet properties for auxiliary services. For example, we use Google BigQuery to store and analyze most of our system data including number of active users, clicks-per-user, impressions, comments, likes, visits, etc. Google BigQuery allows us to affordably and seamlessly scale our data warehouse capacity, which is key as we derive insights from our massive user base to enhance our AI-powered content discovery platform. If these third parties decide to stop collaborating with us, our revenues and growth and operations may be adversely affected.

 

Privacy concerns relating to our services and the use of user information could negatively impact our user base or user engagement, or subject us to governmental regulation and other legal obligations.

 

We collect certain user profile, user location and other data from our users in order to better understand our users and their needs and to support our AI-powered content discovery and recommendation platform and big data analytical capabilities for more targeted services such as personalized news, videos and other online content recommendations. We also collect certain data from users of our fintech products for credit scoring and money transfer purposes. Concerns about the collection, use, disclosure or security of personal information and data or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, could damage our reputation, cause us to lose users and subject us to regulatory investigations, all of which may adversely affect our business. While we strive to comply with applicable data protection laws and regulations, as well as our privacy policies pursuant to our terms of use and other obligations we may have with respect to privacy and data protection, any failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws, regulations or policies may result, and in some cases have resulted, in inquiries and other proceedings or actions against us by government agencies or others, as well as negative publicity and damage to our reputation and brands, each of which could cause us to lose users and have an adverse effect on our business and operating results. The confidential information we collect, store and process may make us an attractive target and potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks, computer virus, physical or electronic break-ins or similar disruptions.

 

 

Any actual or perceived systems failure or compromise of our security that results in the unauthorized access to or release of the data of our users because of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise, or if design flaws in our technology infrastructure are exposed and exploited, could significantly reduce our users’ willingness to use our services, as well as harm our reputation and brands. We expect to continue expending significant resources to protect against security breaches. The risk that these types of events could seriously harm our business is likely to increase as we expand the number of services we offer and increase the size of our user base.

 

We are exposed to cyber-attacks, data breaches, internal employee and other insider misconduct, computer viruses, physical and electronic break-ins and similar disruptions that may adversely impact our ability to protect the confidential information of our users and borrowers.

 

We collect, store and process certain personal and other sensitive data from our users during our daily business operations. For example, for our fintech business, we collect our users’ personal information for credit assessment and money transfer purposes. The external service providers on which we rely for credit assessment, loan distribution, and payment collection also collect and store information and data of our users. The data that we have processed and stored makes us and our external service providers a target and potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins or similar disruptions.

 

While we have taken measures to protect the confidential information that we have access to, our security measures could be breached. Moreover, the techniques used to obtain unauthorized, improper or illegal access to our and our external service providers’ systems, our data or customers’ data, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems are constantly evolving, may be difficult to detect quickly, and often are not recognized until after they have been launched against a target. Unauthorized parties can and have attempted to gain access to our systems and facilities through various means, including, among others, hacking into the systems or facilities of us or our partners or customers, or attempting to fraudulently induce our employees, partners, customers or others into disclosing user names, passwords, or other sensitive information, which may in turn be used to access our information technology systems. Certain efforts may be state-sponsored and supported by significant financial and technological resources, making them even more difficult to detect. Computer malware, viruses and hacking, phishing and denial of service attacks by third parties have become more prevalent in our industry, and have occurred on our systems in the past and may occur on our systems in the future. Although to date we have not suffered material costs or disruption to our business caused by any such incident, any future security breach could have a material adverse impact on our relationships with our borrowers and our reputation, business operations and financial performance.

 

Because we store, process and use data, some of which contains personal information, we are subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations across multiple jurisdictions regarding privacy, data protection and other matters.

 

We are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the European Union and other markets that involve matters central to our business, including user privacy, rights of publicity, data protection, content, intellectual property, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, taxation and online-payment services. These laws can be particularly restrictive in certain countries, and constantly evolve and remain subject to significant change. In addition, the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are often uncertain, particularly in the new and rapidly evolving industry in which we operate. Because we store, process and use data, some of which contains personal information, we are subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection and other matters. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in investigations, claims, changes to our business practices, increased cost of operations and declines in user growth, retention or engagement, any of which could seriously harm our business.

 

In the European Union, for example, the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR (replacing the 1995 Data Protection Directive), went into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR applies to processing of the personal data of users in the European Union/EEA, as well as by businesses established in the European Union/EEA. We serve our European users from our business establishment in Norway and consequently all our processing of the personal data of such users is subject to the GDPR. Non-compliance may seriously harm our business and may result in significant penalties. Also the E-Privacy Regulation (replacing the 2002 E-Privacy Directive) which is currently being processed by the legislative bodies of the European Union, is likely to affect our business. There is uncertainty relating to the potential impact of the E-Privacy Regulation and how its requirements will relate to the requirements of the GDPR.

 

Our fintech business exposes us to credit risks.

 

We currently utilize our own capital to fund loans extended in our fintech business, and we therefore bear the credit risks of our borrowers. The delinquency rate of the loans we extend may increase in a manner that surpasses the benefits we derive, putting a significant portion of the funds that we lend at risk, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations. In the fourth quarter of 2019, our non-performing loans were 5.5% of our total loan value. We monitor our risk tolerance levels relating to microlending on a regular basis. Furthermore, we review the occurrence, progress and status of credit risks, and take appropriate actions to mitigate any adverse effects. However, we cannot assure you that our credit risk management measures could reduce risks we are exposed to or prevent repeated credit losses in a timely or effective manner or at all, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations. Additionally, we face risks from events outside of our direct control, including for example global pandemics, geo-political situations and rapid changes in economic environments, all of which could lead to increased credit risk. 

 

Our move into the financial service industry has subjected us to complex, evolving and uncertain regulatory regimes in multiple jurisdictions.

 

The online microfinance markets in the countries where we operate are new and may not evolve as expected. The regulatory regimes in some of these countries with respect to the online microfinance industry are new and evolving, and interpretation and enforcement regimes are subject to significant uncertainties. We have expanded our footprint into the financial service industry in multiple jurisdictions. In 2019, we scaled our microfinance business in Kenya and further expanded our footprint to India. In January 2020, we completed the acquisition of the Estonian-based banking-as-a-service company Pocosys and announced an agreement subject to regulatory approval to further take over Pocopay, its sister company, which is a licensed payment institution regulated by the Estonian FSA that provides financial services in the European Union. These expansions have subjected us to complex regulatory regimes in multiple jurisdictions and increased our compliance burden. If our microfinance business is deemed not to comply with any laws and regulations, our business, financial condition and results of operation could be materially and adversely affected. As a result of our expansion into new jurisdictions, each with different regulatory compliance requirements, we have incurred new compliance costs, and if any of the relevant regulatory authorities, such as the Reserve Bank of India and the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority, introduce new regulations or impose greater restrictions on us, we may incur additional compliance costs. Other regulatory changes could require us to change our business model or processes in order to comply. We may also be subject to new taxes or cumbersome reporting obligations, which could be financially burdensome to us. If we fail to comply with any of the applicable regulations, we may be subject to monetary penalties, which would also affect our results of operations.

 

 

Our business depends on a strong brand and reputation, and we may not be able to maintain and enhance our brand or reputation or there may be negative publicity against us.

 

We believe that our “Opera” brand and our reputation have contributed significantly to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the “Opera” brand and our reputation are critical to increasing the number of our users and customers. As our market becomes increasingly competitive, our success in maintaining and enhancing our brand and reputation will depend largely on our ability to remain as a leading provider of AI-powered news feed, browser and other products and services, which may become more expensive and challenging.

 

We consistently conduct marketing and brand promotion efforts and over the years have increased related spending. In addition, we work closely with key mobile device manufacturer partners to pre-install Opera products and co-market our products and services. However, we cannot assure you that our marketing and brand promotion activities in the future will achieve the expected brand promotion effect to acquire users in a cost-effective way. If we fail to maintain and further promote the “Opera” brand or our reputation, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our investments in companies, new businesses and new products, services and technologies are inherently risky and could disrupt our ongoing businesses.

 

We have invested and expect to continue to invest in promising companies, new businesses, products, services and technologies. For example, in November 2018 we invested in StarMaker, a fast-growing technology-driven social media company focused on music and entertainment, with a user base in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia and the Middle East. We have also invested in OPay a leading mobile wallet and payment services company in Nigeria. Such endeavors may involve significant risks and uncertainties. If our investee companies fail to carry out their businesses in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, incur excessive amounts of debt or go bankrupt, or the business operations decline, the fair value of our investment in these companies may deteriorate. Moreover, the general operational risks, such as inadequate or failing internal control of these investee companies, may also expose our investments to risks. Furthermore, changes to the valuation of these investees may also impact our financial results, depending on the way in which we account for our investment. For example, because we hold preferred shares in OPay, IFRS requires us to account for changes to the fair value of OPay under gain (loss) from associates and joint ventures, which in 2019 resulted in an increase in our net income of US$33.9 million. Should the fair value of OPay decrease in future years, our financial results will be adversely affected.

 

Likewise, we are subject to risks resulting from our investment and efforts in new businesses and new products. In December 2018, we acquired the “OKash” fintech business, a microcredit product which we believe is a new user-driven business opportunity that will benefit from our existing reach and scale in emerging markets. In 2019, we launched Opera Ads, our advertising solution targeting digital agencies, advertisers and brands to connect and engage directly with Opera users, and OList, an online marketplace and ecommerce platform in Nigeria. Due to these investments, we may be subject to uncertainties, including insufficient revenues from such investments or new products to offset any new liabilities assumed and expenses associated with these new investments, inadequate return of capital on our investments, distraction of management from current operations and unidentified issues not discovered in our due diligence of such strategies and offerings that could cause us to fail to realize the anticipated benefits of such investments and incur unanticipated liabilities. For example, as we carry out our plans to expand our microfinance business and offer new loan products to an expanding borrower base, we may not be able to effectively manage the credit risks associated with the microfinance business. The delinquency rate of the loans we extend may increase in a manner that surpasses the benefits we derive, putting a significant portion of the funds that we lend at risk, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations. Because these new ventures are inherently risky, no assurance can be given that such strategies and offerings will be successful and will not adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and operating results.

 

In addition, we invest certain excess cash in marketable securities in accordance with our investment policy. Our investments are subject to volatilities in the financial markets. We cannot guarantee that our investment portfolio will be safe or liquid or generate expected returns. Any failure to make these investments effectively could limit cash available for our business operation and expansion, result in financial losses and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operation, and prospects. 

 

We operate a platform that includes third parties over whose actions we have no control.

 

Our AI-powered content discovery platform integrates the services of third party content providers, and provides a platform for independent bloggers and journalists to publish their work. For example, our recently released Opera News Hub is a new online media platform which enables bloggers and content writers to gain more exposure. We cannot control the actions of these third parties and if they were to upload any content that may be deemed offensive, socially unacceptable or otherwise violates applicable laws in relevant jurisdictions, or they do not perform their functions to our satisfaction or the satisfaction of our users, even if we may not be legally responsible for their actions, it may damage the reputation of our platform. Likewise, if these third parties do not perform their functions in compliance with applicable law and with due respect for the legal rights of others, this also may damage the reputation of our platform or result in us incurring legal liabilities.

 

 

Our browsers integrate online search capabilities from leading international and regional search companies. We cannot be certain that our search partners will provide our users with the search results that they are looking for. Our browsers also contain short-cuts to third party e-commerce, travel and other businesses and we cannot be certain that the products and services that these third-parties provide will all be legitimate, of a sufficiently high quality or that they will accurately represent the products and services in their postings. Further, while we have agreements with each of these parties, any legal protections we might have in our agreements could be insufficient to compensate us for our losses and may not be able to repair the damage to our reputation.

 

We rely upon third party channels and partners in distributing our products and services.

 

We rely upon a number of third parties for distribution of our products and services to end users. For example, we rely on mobile software application storefronts, including Apple’s App Store, various mobile manufacturer app stores (including those of Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo), and the Google Play Store, to enable users to download our mobile software applications, and on key mobile manufacturers to pre-install our mobile software applications on mobile phones prior to sale. The promotion, distribution and operation of our software applications are subject to the standard terms and conditions of these distribution channel providers, which may be broad, poorly tailored to local conditions, and subject to frequent unilateral changes and interpretation by the channel providers. If one or more channel providers halts the distribution of certain of our products and services on their platforms, as they have temporarily done in the past, our business may suffer. There is no guarantee that these distribution channel providers will distribute or continue to support or feature our product offerings. Furthermore, these channel providers may not enforce their standard terms and conditions for application developers consistently or uniformly across all applications and with all application developers, in part because such terms and conditions may not be practical or otherwise appropriate in certain markets. We will continue to be dependent on distribution channel providers, and any changes, bugs, technical or regulatory issues relating to such channel providers, our relationships with these channel providers, or the requirements or interpretation of their terms and conditions or pricing that is to our detriment could adversely impact our business. These may include any changes that degrade the functionality of our offerings, reduce or eliminate our ability to distribute our offerings, give preferential treatment to competitive products, limit our ability to deliver high quality offerings, or impose fees or other charges related to delivering our offerings. Further, if a channel provider believes that we have violated the terms and conditions of its platform, regardless of whether such terms and conditions have a legitimate basis or are practical in a given market, this could result in the channel provider restricting our ability to  use their services and adversely affect our product usage and monetization. Furthermore, if any of these distribution channel providers delivers unsatisfactory services, engages in fraudulent action, or is unable or refuses to continue to provide its services to us and our users for any reason, it may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our fintech business relies on a number of third party service providers, and a disruption or failure in services provided by these third parties could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

We rely on a number of external service providers for certain critical aspect of our fintech business, including credit assessing, loan distribution, payment receipt and payment collection. We rely on proprietary and third party licensed risk assessment technology in assessing the creditworthiness of our borrowers and the risks associated with loans. If internal or external components of such risk assessment technology is flawed or ineffective, or if we otherwise fail or are perceived to fail in managing the default risks of loans we extend, the delinquency rate of these loans may increase in a manner that surpasses the benefits we derive, putting a significant portion of the funds that we lend at risk, which may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations. In addition, if we cannot continue to obtain third party licensed risk assessment services, or if we cannot transition to another service provider in a timely manner or at all, our ability to assess credit risks of our borrowers could suffer, which may adversely affect our business operations. In addition, we also rely on mobile money and payment service providers to distribute loans and receive repayments, and call centers to collect payments. If our mobile money and payment service providers lose their regulatory licenses, become insolvent or lose market share to other forms of payment, or if call center operations we rely on are disrupted, our results of operation could be adversely affected. Furthermore, these third parties may breach their agreements with us or refuse to provide services or renew our existing agreement on commercially reasonable terms. If any of our third party service providers provides unsatisfactory services or fails to provide services at all, we may face business disruptions, customer complaints, reputational damage and/or financial and legal exposure, which may in turn harm our fintech business.

 

We may fail to attract, motivate and retain the key members of our management team or other experienced and capable employees.

 

Our future success is significantly dependent upon the continued service of our executives and other key employees. If we lose the services of any member of management or any key personnel, we may not be able to locate a suitable or qualified replacement and we may incur additional expenses to recruit and train a replacement, which could severely disrupt our business and growth.

 

To maintain and grow our business, we will need to identify, hire, develop, motivate and retain highly skilled employees. Identifying, recruiting, training, integrating and retaining qualified individuals requires significant time, expense and attention. In addition, from time to time, there may be changes in our management team that may be disruptive to our business. We may also be subject to local hiring restrictions in certain markets, particularly in connection with the hiring of foreign employees, which may affect the flexibility of our management team. If our management team, including any new hires that we make, fail to work together effectively and execute our plans and strategies, or if we are not able to recruit and retain employees effectively, our ability to achieve our strategic objectives will be adversely affected and our business and growth prospects will be harmed.

 

Competition for highly skilled personnel is intense, particularly in the markets where our business operations are located. We may need to invest significant amounts of cash and equity to attract and retain new employees and we may not be able to realize returns on these investments.

 

We may fail to maintain or improve our technology infrastructure.

 

We are constantly upgrading our technology to provide improved performance, increased scale and better integration among our platforms. Adopting new technologies, upgrading our internet ecosystem infrastructure, maintaining and improving our technology infrastructure require significant investments of time and resources, including adding new hardware, updating software and recruiting and training new engineering personnel. Adverse consequences for the failure to do so may include unanticipated system disruptions, security breaches, computer virus attacks, slower response times, decreased user satisfaction and delays in reporting accurate operating and financial information. In addition, many of the software and interfaces we use are internally developed and proprietary technology. If we experience problems with the functionality and effectiveness of our software or platforms, or are unable to maintain and constantly improve our technology infrastructure to handle our business needs and ensure a consistent and acceptable level of service for our users, our business, financial condition, results of operation and prospects, as well as our reputation, could be materially and adversely affected.

 

 

Mobile malware, viruses, hacking and phishing attacks, spamming and improper or illegal use of our products or services could seriously harm our business and reputation.

 

Mobile malware, viruses, hacking and phishing attacks have become more prevalent in our industry, have occurred on our systems in the past and may occur on our systems in the future. Because of our prominence, we believe that we are an attractive target for these sorts of attacks. In some of our businesses we rely on mobile money providers and payment processors to conclude transactions. Such suppliers may hold funds on our behalf and may themselves be attractive targets for these sorts of attacks. Although it is difficult to determine what, if any, harm may directly result from an interruption or attack, any failure to maintain performance, reliability, security and availability of our products and technical infrastructure to the satisfaction of our users may seriously harm our reputation and our ability to retain existing users and attract new users. If these activities increase on our platform, our reputation, user growth and engagement, and operational cost structure could be seriously harmed. Likewise, such failures with respect to our suppliers may harm our reputation or result in a financial loss.

 

We may not be able to prevent others from unauthorized use of our intellectual property or brands.

 

We regard our patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property as critical to our business. Unauthorized use of our intellectual property by third parties may adversely affect our business and reputation. We rely on a combination of intellectual property laws and contractual arrangements to protect our proprietary rights. It is often difficult to register, maintain and enforce intellectual property rights in the markets where we operate. For example, statutory laws and regulations are subject to judicial interpretation and enforcement and may not be applied consistently due to the lack of clear guidance on statutory interpretation in Africa, Southeast Asia, China, Russia and India. In addition, contractual agreements may be breached by counterparties and there may not be adequate remedies available to us for any such breach. Accordingly, we may not be able to effectively protect our intellectual property rights or to enforce our contractual rights. Policing any unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly and the steps we have taken may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of our intellectual property. In the event that we resort to litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, such litigation could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our managerial and financial resources. We can provide no assurance that we will prevail in such litigation. In addition, our trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become available to, or be independently discovered by, our competitors.

 

Some of our applications contain open source software, which may pose increased risk to our proprietary software.

 

We use open source software in some of our applications, including our Opera browsers, which incorporate Chromium browser technology, and will use open source software in the future. In addition, we regularly contribute source code to open source software projects and release internal software projects under open source licenses, and anticipate doing so in the future. The terms of many open source licenses to which we are subject have not been interpreted by U.S. or foreign courts, and there is a risk that such licenses could be construed in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to sell or distribute our applications. Additionally, we may from time to time face threats or claims from third parties claiming ownership of, or demanding release of, the alleged open source software or derivative works we developed using such software, which could include our proprietary source code, or otherwise seeking to enforce the terms of the applicable open source license. These threats or claims could result in litigation and could require us to make our source code freely available, purchase a costly license or cease offering the implicated applications unless and until we can re-engineer them to avoid infringement. Such a re-engineering process could require significant additional research and development resources, and we may not be able to complete it successfully. In addition to risks related to license requirements, our use of certain open source software may lead to greater risks than use of third party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or controls on the origin of the software. Additionally, because any software source code we contribute to open source projects is publicly available, our ability to protect our intellectual property rights with respect to such software source code may be limited or lost entirely, and we are unable to prevent our competitors or others from using such contributed software source code. Any of these risks could be difficult to eliminate or manage and, if not addressed, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We rely upon the internet infrastructure, data center providers and telecommunications networks in the markets where we operate.

 

Our business depends on the performance and reliability of the internet infrastructure and contracted data center providers in the markets where we operate. We may not have access to alternative networks or data servers in the event of disruptions or failures of, or other problems with, the relevant internet infrastructure. In addition, the internet infrastructure, especially in the emerging markets where we operate, may not support the demands associated with continued growth in internet usage.

 

 

We use third party data center providers for the storing of data related to our business. We do not control the operation of these facilities and rely on contracted agreements to employ their use. The owners of the data center facilities have no obligation to renew their agreements with us on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. If we are unable to renew these agreements on commercially reasonable terms, or if one of our data center providers is acquired by another party, we may be required to transfer our servers and other infrastructure to new data center facilities, and we may incur significant costs and possible lengthy service interruptions in connection with doing so. Any changes in third party service levels at our data centers or any errors, defects, disruptions or other performance problems with our browsers or other services could adversely affect our reputation and adversely affect the online browsing experience. If navigation through our browsers is slower than our users expect, users may use our services less, if at all. Interruptions in our services might reduce our revenue, subject us to potential liability or adversely affect our ability to attract advertisers.

 

We also rely on major telecommunications operators in the markets where we operate to provide us with data communications capacity primarily through local telecommunications lines and data centers to host our servers. We and our users may not have access to alternative services in the event of disruptions or failures of, or other problems with, the fixed telecommunications networks of these telecommunications operators, or if such operators otherwise fail to provide such services. Any unscheduled service interruption could disrupt our operations, damage our reputation and result in a decrease in our revenue. Furthermore, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by the telecommunications operators to us and our users. If the prices that we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our gross margins could be significantly reduced. In addition, if internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, our user traffic may decrease, which in turn may cause our revenue to decline.

 

Our business depends on continued and unimpeded access to the internet by us and our users. Internet access providers may be able to restrict, block, degrade or charge for access to certain of our products and services, which could lead to additional expenses and the loss of users and advertisers.

 

Our products and services depend on the ability of our users to access the internet. Currently, this access is provided by companies that have significant market power in the broadband and internet access marketplace, including incumbent telephone companies, cable companies, mobile communications companies and government-owned service providers. Some of these providers have taken, or have stated that they may take measures, including legal actions, that could degrade, disrupt or increase the cost of user access to certain of our products by restricting or prohibiting the use of their infrastructure to support or facilitate our offerings, or by charging increased fees to us or our users to provide our offerings.

 

In addition, in some markets, our products and services may be subject to government-initiated restrictions or blockages. Such interference could result in a loss of existing users and advertisers, and increased costs, and could impair our ability to attract new users and advertisers, thereby harming our revenues and growth.

 

We plan to continue expanding our operations globally to markets where we have limited operating experience, which may subject us to increased business, economic and regulatory risks.

 

We plan to continue expanding our business operations globally and translating our products into other languages. Opera is currently available in more than 50 languages, and we have offices in ten countries. We plan to enter new markets where we have limited or no experience in marketing, selling and deploying our products and services. If we fail to deploy or manage our operations in international markets successfully, our business may suffer. In the future, as our international operations increase, or more of our expenses are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar or Euros, our operating results may become more sensitive to fluctuations in the exchange rates of the currencies in which we do business. In addition, we are subject to a variety of risks inherent in doing business internationally, including:

 

 

political, social and economic instability;

     
 

risks related to the legal and regulatory environment in foreign jurisdictions, including with respect to privacy, localization and content laws as well as unexpected changes in laws, regulatory requirements and enforcement due to the wide discretion given local lawmakers and regulators regarding the enactment, interpretation and implementation of local regulations;

     
 

potential damage to our brand and reputation due to compliance with local laws, including potential censorship and requirements to provide user information to local authorities;

 

 

 

fluctuations in currency exchange rates;

     
 

higher levels of credit risk and payment fraud;

     
 

complying with multiple tax jurisdictions;

     
 

enhanced difficulties of integrating any foreign acquisitions;

     
 

complying with a variety of foreign laws, including certain employment laws requiring national collective bargaining agreements that set minimum salaries, benefits, working conditions and termination requirements;

     
 

reduced protection for intellectual property rights in some countries;

     
 

difficulties in staffing and managing global operations and the increased travel, infrastructure and compliance costs associated with multiple international locations;

     
 

regulations that might add difficulties in repatriating cash earned outside our core markets and otherwise preventing us from freely moving cash;

     
 

import and export restrictions and changes in trade regulation;

     
 

complying with statutory equity requirements;

     
 

complying with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and similar laws in other jurisdictions; and

     
 

complying with export controls and economic sanctions administered by the relevant local authorities, including in the United States and European Union, in our international business.

 

If we are unable to expand internationally and manage the complexity of our global operations successfully, our business could be seriously harmed.

 

We may not achieve the intended tax efficiencies of our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate.

 

Our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements, including the manner in which we conduct our intercompany and related party transactions, are intended to provide us with worldwide tax efficiencies. The application of tax laws of various jurisdictions to our business activities is subject to interpretation and also depends on our ability to operate our business in a manner consistent with our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements. The tax authorities of jurisdictions where we operate may challenge our methodologies for intercompany and related party arrangements, including transfer pricing, or determine that the manner in which we operate does not achieve the intended tax consequences, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

 

A certain degree of judgment is required in evaluating our tax positions and determining our provision for income taxes. In the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. For example, our effective tax rate could be adversely affected by lower than anticipated earnings in markets where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated earnings in markets where we have higher statutory rates, inability to fully utilize tax assets recognized on our balance sheet, by changes in foreign currency exchange rates or by changes in the relevant tax, accounting and other laws, regulations, principles and interpretations. Any of these factors could materially and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

 

Industry data, projections and estimates contained in this annual report are inherently uncertain and subject to interpretation. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on such information.

 

Certain facts, forecasts and other statistics relating to the industries in which we compete contained in this annual report have been derived from various public data sources and third party industry reports. In deriving the market size of the aforementioned industries and regions, these industry consultants may have adopted different assumptions and estimates, such as the number of internet users. While we generally believe such reports are reliable, we have not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of such information. Such reports may not be prepared on a comparable basis or may not be consistent with other sources.

 

 

Industry data, projections and estimates are subject to inherent uncertainty as they necessarily require certain assumptions and judgments. Our industry data and market share data should be interpreted in light of the defined geographic markets and defined industries we operate in. Any discrepancy in the interpretation thereof could lead to different industry data, measurements, projections and estimates and result in errors and inaccuracies.

 

Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measuring our operations.

 

We regularly review metrics, including our MAUs, to evaluate growth trends, measure our performance and make strategic decisions. These metrics are calculated using internal company data and have not been validated by an independent third party. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our platforms are used across large populations throughout the regions that we operate in. For example, we believe that we cannot distinguish individual users who use multiple applications. Our user metrics are also affected by technology on certain mobile devices that automatically runs in the background of our applications when another phone function is used, and this activity can cause our system to miscount the user metrics associated with such applications.

 

Errors or inaccuracies in our metrics or data could result in incorrect business decisions and inefficiencies. For instance, if a significant understatement or overstatement of active users were to occur, we may expend resources to implement unnecessary business measures or fail to take required actions to remedy an unfavorable trend. Moreover, during the process of upgrading our platform in the past, we have lost certain historical metrics, such as the number of search queries, that we rely on to manage our operations. If partners or investors do not perceive our user, geographic or other operating metrics as accurately representing our user base, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our user, geographic or other operating metrics, our reputation may be seriously harmed.

 

If we fail to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud.

 

As a public company in the United States, we are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires that we include a report from management on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting in our annual report on Form 20-F beginning with this annual report. In connection with the preparation of this annual report, management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2019 was not effective due to the presence of the following control deficiencies that constitute material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting:

 

 

1.

We did not design and maintain effective internal control over certain accounting transactions. Specifically, we did not perform an appropriate risk assessment, design and implement appropriate controls including the monitoring of the effectiveness of those controls to ensure that accounting transactions were sufficiently analyzed and assessed against the requirements and to analyze complex accounting matters, including the timely preparation and review of contemporaneous documentation. We have introduced appropriately qualified accounting personnel however there was insufficient time to allow them to appropriately identify and implement robust controls prior December 31, 2019.
     
  2. We did not perform an appropriate risk assessment in identifying specific risks with microlending businesses across several countries being operated in, and thereafter design and implement controls including monitor such controls in terms of oversight. Our process to evaluate the competence and expertise necessary to support the growth and complexity of the business, its financial reporting, and response to address shortcomings was not sufficiently implemented during 2019. As a result, we did not have a sufficient number of adequately trained personnel within the organization with assigned responsibility and accountability for the design, effective operation, and documentation of internal control over financial reporting.

 

Although we are in the process of taking remedial measures to secure the resources necessary to fully implement our framework of internal controls, we cannot assure you that these material weaknesses will be cured in a timely manner. See “Item 15. Controls and Procedures—Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting.”

 

Moreover, during the course of documenting and testing our internal control procedures in order to satisfy the requirements of Section 404, we may identify other weaknesses and deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404. If we fail to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations, and lead to a decline in the trading price of our ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions. We may also be required to restate our financial statements from prior periods.

 

In addition, if we cease to be an “emerging growth company” as such term is defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Our management may conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective. Moreover, even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm, after conducting its own independent testing, may issue a report that is qualified if it is not satisfied with our internal controls or the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed, or if it interprets the relevant requirements differently from us. In addition, our reporting obligations as a public company may place a significant strain on our management, operational and financial resources and systems for the foreseeable future. We may be unable to timely complete our evaluation testing and any required remediation.

 

 

We may be required to recognize impairment charges.

 

Our goodwill and intangible assets totaled US$421.6 million and US$110.8 million, respectively, as of December 31, 2019. We did not incur any impairment charges with respect to these long-lived assets in 2017, 2018 and 2019. We also had US$26.1 million of furniture, fixtures and equipment as of December 31, 2019. In accordance with applicable accounting standards, goodwill and intangible assets that are not amortized are subject to assessment for impairment by applying a fair value or value in use based test annually, and also when certain circumstances warrant, such as when our market capitalization falls below the book value of our equity. In addition to this indication of impairment, goodwill, intangible assets and furniture, fixtures and equipment are subject to assessment for impairment if there are other indicators of impairment, including:

 

 

losses of key customers;

     
 

unfavorable changes in technology or competition;

     
 

unfavorable changes in user base or user tastes

 

Based upon future economic and financial market conditions, the operating performance of our reporting units and other factors, including those listed above, future impairment charges could be incurred. It is possible that such impairment, if required, could be material. Any future impairment charges that we are required to record could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations.

 

We may need additional capital but may not be able to obtain it on favorable terms or at all.

 

While we believe we have sufficient capital to fund our current growth plans, we may require additional capital in order to fund future plans for the additional growth and development of our businesses and any additional investments or acquisitions we may decide to pursue. If our cash resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to issue additional equity or debt securities or obtain new or expanded credit facilities. Our ability to obtain external financing in the future is subject to a variety of uncertainties, including our future financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, share price performance, liquidity of international capital and lending markets and governmental regulations in the markets that we operate in. In addition, incurring indebtedness would subject us to increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations. There can be no assurance that financing will be available in a timely manner or in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, or at all. Any failure to raise needed funds on terms favorable to us, or at all, could severely restrict our liquidity as well as have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, any issuance of equity or equity-linked securities could result in significant dilution to our existing shareholders.

 

We have limited business insurance coverage.

 

Consistent with customary industry practice in the markets that we operate in, our business insurance is limited. Any uninsured damage to our platforms, technology infrastructures or disruption of our business operations could require us to incur substantial costs and divert our resources, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We are subject to risks related to litigation, including intellectual property claims and regulatory disputes.

 

We may be, and in some instances have been, subject to claims, lawsuits (including class actions and individual lawsuits), government investigations and other proceedings relating to intellectual property, consumer protection, privacy, labor and employment, import and export practices, competition, securities, tax, marketing and communications practices, commercial disputes and other matters. The number and significance of our legal disputes and inquiries have increased as we have grown larger, as our business has expanded in scope and geographic reach and as our services have increased in complexity.

 

Moreover, as a public company we have an elevated public profile, which may result in increased litigation and public awareness of such litigation. There is substantial uncertainty regarding the scope and application of many of the laws and regulations to which we are subject, which increases the risk that we will be subject to claims alleging violations of those laws and regulations. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in investigations, claims, changes to our business practices, increased cost of operations and declines in our user base, retention or engagement, any of which could seriously harm our business. In the future, we may also be accused of having, or be found to have, infringed or violated third party intellectual property rights.

 

Regardless of the outcome, legal proceedings can have a material and adverse impact on us due to their costs, diversion of our resources and other factors. We may decide to settle legal disputes on terms that are unfavorable to us. Furthermore, if any litigation to which we are a party is resolved adversely, we may be subject to an unfavorable judgment that we may not choose to appeal or that may not be reversed upon appeal. We may have to seek a license to continue practices found to be in violation of a third party’s rights. If we are required, or choose to enter into, royalty or licensing arrangements, such arrangements may not be available on reasonable terms, or at all, and may significantly increase our operating costs and expenses. As a result, we may also be required to develop or procure alternative non-infringing technology or discontinue the use of technology, and doing so could require significant effort and expense, or may not be feasible. In addition, the terms of any settlement or judgment in connection with any legal claims, lawsuits or proceedings may require us to cease some or all of our operations, or pay substantial amounts to the other party and could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We are currently subject to, and in the future may from time to time face, intellectual property infringement claims, which could be time consuming and costly to defend, and may require us to pay significant damages or cease offering any of our products or key features of our products.

 

We cannot be certain that the products, services and intellectual property used in the ordinary course of our business do not or will not infringe valid patents, copyrights or other intellectual property rights held by third parties. We operate platforms which third party content providers may use to distribute their content, and we cannot assure you that such content providers have sufficient rights in the content they distribute via our platforms. We currently are, and may in the future be, subject to claims or legal proceedings relating to the intellectual property of others in the ordinary course of our business and may in the future be required to pay damages or to agree to restrict our activities. In particular, if we are found to have violated the intellectual property rights of others, we may be enjoined from using such intellectual property, may be ordered to pay damages and may incur licensing fees or be forced to develop alternatives. We may incur substantial expense in defending against third party infringement claims, regardless of their merit. Successful infringement claims against us may result in substantial monetary liability or may materially disrupt the conduct of our business by restricting or prohibiting our use of the intellectual property in question.

 

 

We do not have exclusive rights to certain technology, trademarks and designs that are crucial to our business.

 

We have applied for various patents relating to our business. While we have succeeded in obtaining some patents, some of our patent applications are still under examination by the various regulatory authorities in the markets that we operate in. Approvals of our patent applications are subject to determinations by the relevant local authorities that there are no prior rights in the applicable territory. In addition, we have also applied for initial registrations and/or changes in registrations relating to transfers of our Opera logos and other of our key trademarks to establish and protect our exclusive rights to these trademarks. While we have succeeded in registering the trademarks for most of these marks in our major markets under certain classes, the applications for initial registration, and/or changes in registrations relating to transfers, of some marks and/or of some of trademarks under other classes are still under examination by the relevant local authorities. Approvals of our initial trademark registration applications, and/or of changes in registrations relating to such transfers, are subject to determinations by the relevant local authorities that there are no prior rights in the applicable territories. We cannot assure you that these patent and trademark applications will be approved. Any rejection of these applications could adversely affect our rights to the affected technology, marks and designs. In addition, even if these applications are approved, we cannot assure you that any issued patents or registered trademarks will be sufficient in scope to provide adequate protection of our rights.

 

Our business may be adversely affected by third party software applications or practices that interfere with our receipt of information from, or provision of information to, our users, which may impair the user experience on our platform.

 

Our business may be adversely affected by third party software applications, which may be unintentional or malicious, that make changes to our users’ PCs or mobile devices and interfere with our products and services. These software applications may change the user experience on our platform by hijacking queries, altering or replacing the search results provided by our search engine partners to our users or otherwise interfering with our ability to connect with our users. Such interference can occur without disclosure to or consent from users, and users may associate any resulting negative experience with our products and services. Such software applications are often designed to be difficult to remove, block or disable. Further, software loaded on or added to mobile devices on which our search or other applications, such as Opera News, are pre-installed may be incompatible with or interfere with or prevent the operation of such applications, which might deter the owners of such devices from using our services. If we are unable to successfully prevent or limit any such applications or systems that interfere with our products and services, our ability to deliver a high-quality browsing experience and recommend relevant content to our users may be adversely affected.

 

Interruption or failure of our information technology and communications systems may result in reduced user traffic and harm to our reputation and business.

 

Interruption or failure of any of our information technology and communications systems or those of the operators of third party internet properties that we collaborate with could impede or prevent our ability to provide our services. In addition, our operations are vulnerable to natural disasters and other events. Our disaster recovery plan for our servers cannot fully ensure safety in the event of damage from fire, floods, typhoons, earthquakes, power loss, telecommunications failures, hacking and similar events. If any of the foregoing occurs, we may experience a partial or complete system shutdown. Furthermore, our servers, which are hosted at third party internet data centers, are also vulnerable to break-ins, sabotage and vandalism. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning does not account for all possible scenarios. The occurrence of a natural disaster or a closure of an internet data center by a third party provider without adequate notice could result in lengthy service interruptions. Any system failure or inadequacy that causes interruptions in the availability of our services, or increases the response time of our services, could have an adverse impact on our user experience and satisfaction, our attractiveness to users and advertisers and future user traffic and advertising on our platform. To improve performance and to prevent disruption of our services, we may have to make substantial investments to deploy additional servers or one or more copies of our internet platforms to mirror our online resources.

 

 

Our results of operations are subject to seasonal fluctuations due to a number of factors.

 

We are subject to seasonality and other fluctuations in our business. Revenues from our e-commerce and travel partners are typically affected by seasonality due to various holidays that may result in higher than usual e-commerce transactions and travel-related activities, and similar seasonal trends may affect revenues from our search partners. We may not yet have sufficient historical information to accurately anticipate seasonal or other fluctuations in our newer business areas.

 

Our corporate actions are substantially controlled by our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Yahui Zhou, who has the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters that require approval of shareholders, which may deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for your ADSs and materially reduce the value of your investment.

 

As of the date of this annual report, Mr. Yahui Zhou, our chairman of the board and chief executive officer, beneficially owned 26.4% of the ordinary shares issued and outstanding and may be in a position to effectively control 60.16% of the voting power. As a result, Mr. Yahui Zhou has the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters and investors may be prevented from affecting important corporate matters involving our company that require approval of shareholders, including:

 

 

the composition of our board of directors and, through it, any determinations with respect to our operations, business direction and policies, including the appointment and removal of officers;

     
 

any determinations with respect to mergers or other business combinations;

     
 

our disposition of substantially all of our assets; and

     
 

any change in control.

 

These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders, including the holders of the ADSs. Furthermore, this concentration of ownership may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the dual effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and reducing the price of the ADSs. As a result of the foregoing, the value of your investment could be materially reduced.

 

We may be the subject of anti-competitive, harassing or other detrimental conduct that could harm our reputation and cause us to lose users and customers.

 

In the future, we may be the target of anti-competitive, harassing, or other detrimental conduct by third parties. Allegations, directly or indirectly against us or any of our executive officers, may be posted in internet chatrooms or on blogs or websites by anyone, whether or not related to us, on an anonymous basis. The availability of information on social media platforms and devices is virtually immediate, as is its impact. Social media platforms and devices immediately publish the content their subscribers and participants post, often without filters or checks on the accuracy of the content posted. Information posted may be inaccurate and adverse to us, and it may harm our business, prospects or financial performance. The harm may be immediate without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction. In addition, such conduct may include complaints, anonymous or otherwise, to regulatory agencies. We have been and may again in the future be subject to regulatory investigations as a result of such third party conduct and may be required to expend significant time and incur substantial costs to address such third party conduct, and there is no assurance that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Additionally, our reputation could be harmed as a result of the public dissemination of anonymous allegations or malicious statements about our business, which in turn may cause us to lose users and customers and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

If we fail to detect click-through fraud, we could lose the confidence of our advertisers and our revenues could decline.

 

Our business is exposed to the risk of click-through fraud on our partners’ advertisements. Click-through fraud occurs when a person clicks advertisements for a reason other than to view the underlying content of advertisements. If our advertising partners fail to detect significant fraudulent clicks or otherwise are unable to prevent significant fraudulent activity, the affected search advertisers may experience a reduced return on their investment in advertising on our platform and lose confidence in the integrity of our search partners’ pay-for-click service systems. If this happens, our revenues from our monetization partners may decline.

 

 

We currently report our financial results under IFRS, which differs in certain significant respects from U.S. GAAP.

 

We report our financial statements under IFRS. There have been and there may in the future be certain significant differences between IFRS and U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or U.S. GAAP, including but not limited to differences related to revenue recognition, share-based compensation expense, income tax, impairment of long-lived assets and earnings per share. As a result, our financial information and reported earnings for historical or future periods could be significantly different if they were prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. As a result, you may not be able to meaningfully compare our financial statements under IFRS with those companies that prepare financial statements under U.S. GAAP.

 

We face risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics or terrorist attacks, which could significantly disrupt our operations.

 

Our business could be adversely affected by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, outbreaks of health epidemics such as an outbreak of avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome, Zika virus, Ebola virus or the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as terrorist attacks, other acts of violence or war or social instability. If any of these occurs, we may be required to temporarily or permanently close and our business operations may be suspended or terminated. For example, the outbreak of COVID-19 spread rapidly throughout China and to over 100 countries throughout the world. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)”, and later on March 11, 2020 a global pandemic. Our office operations in the PRC, Poland, Norway, Nigeria, Kenya, India and other countries have been disrupted to an extent by local restrictions in such locations, and the duration and effects of such restrictions are not fully apparent at present. However, our microfinance business is heavily dependent on call center staff for customer service and collections so we have meaningfully scaled back lending activities. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic may also result in a slow-down in advertising markets which would in turn affect our revenues from advertising and search partners. In the event that COVID-19 spreads to other countries in which we operate, additional disruption may occur. Moreover, if any of our employees contract or are suspected of having contracted COVID-19, these employees will be required to be quarantined and they could infect other of our employees potentially resulting in severe disruption to our business. Thus, our operating results in one or more future quarters or years may fluctuate substantially or fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In such event, the trading price of our ADSs may fluctuate significantly. If the outbreak persists, the global economy may be severely harmed and disrupted, which could adversely affect our results of operation.

 

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates will affect our financial results, which we report in U.S. Dollars.

 

We operate in multiple jurisdictions, which exposes us to the effects of fluctuations in currency exchange rates. We earn revenue denominated in U.S. Dollars, Euros, Russian Rubles, Norwegian Krone, Indonesian Rupiah, Japanese Yen, Singapore Dollars, Kenyan Shillings, Chinese Yuan, South African Rand, Indian Rupees and Nigerian Naira, among other currencies. We generally incur expenses for employee compensation and other expenses in the local currencies in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the various currencies that we use could result in expenses being higher and revenue being lower than would be the case if exchange rates were stable. We cannot assure you that movements in foreign currency exchange rates will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in future periods. We do not generally enter into hedging contracts to limit our exposure to fluctuations in the value of the currencies that our businesses use. Furthermore, the substantial majority of our revenue is earned in emerging markets currencies. Because fluctuations in the value of emerging markets currencies are not necessarily correlated, there can be no assurance that our results of operations will not be adversely affected by such volatility.

 

Risks Related to Our ADSs

 

The trading price of ADSs has been and may continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.

 

The trading price of ADSs can be volatile and fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors such as but not limited to concerns over the health of the global economy, geopolitical concerns, and the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

 

 

In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for the ADSs may be highly volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:

 

 

variations in our quarterly or annual revenue, earnings and cash flow;

     
 

announcements of new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or joint ventures by us or our competitors;

     
 

announcements of new products, services and expansions by us or our competitors;

     
 

changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;

     
 

detrimental adverse publicity about us, our platforms or our industries;

     
 

additions or departures of key personnel;

     
 

short seller reports that make allegations against us or our affiliates, even if unfounded;

     
 

release of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding equity securities or sales of additional equity securities;

     
 

potential litigation or regulatory investigations: and

     
 

other risk factors mentioned in this annual report.

 

Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which the ADSs will trade.

 

In the past, class action lawyers have often sought to bring securities class action suits against those companies following periods of instability in the market price of their securities. We have been named in Brown v. Opera Limited, et al., in the Southern District of New York following a period of instability brought on by the published report of a short seller. See the “Item 8. Financial Information — A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information — Legal and Administrative Proceedings”. This or other class action suits may divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations and may require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit, which could harm our results of operations. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for the ADSs will be influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.

 

We currently do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future and you must rely on price appreciation of the ADSs for return on your investment.

 

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in the ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

 

Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends subject to our memorandum and articles of association and certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our directors. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiary, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in the ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of the ADSs. There is no guarantee that the ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in the ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in the ADSs.

 

Mr. Yahui Zhou, our chairman of the board and chief executive officer, has substantial influence over our company and his interests may not be aligned with the interests of our other shareholders.

 

As of the date of this annual report, Mr. Zhou beneficially owns 26.4% of our total issued and outstanding ordinary shares and may be in a position to effectively control 60.16% of the total voting power. As a result, Mr. Zhou has substantial influence over our business, including significant corporate actions such as mergers, consolidations, sales of all or substantially all of our assets, election of directors and other significant corporate actions.

 

Mr. Zhou may take actions that are not aligned with the interests of our other shareholders and may render new investors unable to influence significant corporate decisions. We have in the past, and likely will continue to enter into related party transactions involving entities directly or indirectly controlled by Mr. Zhou. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions — B. Related Party Transactions” for details. Such related party transactions, while reviewed and approved by our Board's Audit Committee consisting solely of independent Directors, may indirectly benefit Mr. Zhou personally, by virtue of his interest in the related party. Furthermore, Mr. Zhou’s substantial influence over our company and such concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of the ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders. In addition, the significant concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of the ADSs due to investors’ perception that conflicts of interest may exist or arise. For more information regarding our principal shareholders and their affiliated entities, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.”

 

 

As a “controlled company” under the rules of the Nasdaq, we may be exempt from certain corporate governance requirements that could adversely affect our public shareholders.

 

Since Mr. Yahui Zhou, our chairman of the board and chief executive officer, is the beneficial owner of a majority of the voting power of our issued and outstanding share capital following the completion of the initial public offering, we are qualified as a “controlled company” under the rules of the Nasdaq. Under these rules a company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, group or another company is a controlled company and may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements, including the requirement that a majority of our directors be independent, as defined in the Nasdaq rules, and the requirement that our compensation and corporate governance and nominating committees consist entirely of independent directors. We reply on certain corporate governance exemptions as described in Item 16G (Corporate Governance) of this annual report. So long as we remain a controlled company relying on any of such exemptions and during any transition period following the time when we are no longer a controlled company, you would not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the Nasdaq corporate governance requirements.

 

If a United States person is treated as owning at least 10% of our ADSs or ordinary shares, such person may be subject to adverse United States federal income tax consequences.

 

If a United States person is treated as owning (directly, indirectly or constructively) at least 10% of the value or voting power of our ADSs or ordinary shares, such person may be treated as a “United States shareholder” with respect to each “controlled foreign corporation,” or CFC, in our group. Because our group includes one or more United States subsidiaries, that are corporations for United States federal income tax purposes, we could be treated as a CFC and certain of our non-United States subsidiary corporations could be treated as CFCs (regardless of whether or not we are treated as a CFC).

 

A United States shareholder of a CFC may be required to annually report and include in its United States taxable income its pro rata share of “Subpart F income,” “global intangible low-taxed income” and investments in United States property by CFCs, whether or not we make any distributions. An individual that is a United States shareholder with respect to a CFC generally would not be allowed certain tax deductions or foreign tax credits that would be allowed to a United States shareholder that is a United States corporation. A failure to comply with these reporting obligations may subject a United States shareholder to significant monetary penalties and may prevent starting of the statute of limitations with respect to such shareholder’s United States federal income tax return for the year for which reporting was due. We do not intend to monitor whether we are or any of our non-United States subsidiaries is treated as a CFC or whether any investor is treated as a United States shareholder with respect to us or any of our CFC subsidiaries or to furnish to any United States shareholders information that may be necessary to comply with the aforementioned reporting and tax paying obligations. A United States investor should consult its own advisor regarding the potential application of these rules in its particular circumstances.

 

If we are a passive foreign investment company for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, United States holders of ADSs or ordinary shares could be subject to adverse United States federal income tax consequences.

 

We will be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year if either (i) at least 75% of our gross income for such year is passive income or (ii) at least 50% of the value of our assets (generally based on an average of the quarterly values of the assets) during such year is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. A separate determination must be made after the close of each taxable year as to whether we are a PFIC for that year. Based on the market price of our ADSs, the value of our assets and the composition of our income and assets, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for United States federal income tax purposes for our taxable year ended December 31, 2019, although there can be no assurances in this regard. Moreover, the application of the PFIC rules is subject to uncertainty in several respects, and we cannot assure you that the United States Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, will not take a contrary position to any determination we make.

 

Changes in the composition of our income or composition of our assets, including as a result of our investment in new businesses, products, services and technologies, may cause us to be or become a PFIC. In addition, the determination of whether we will be a PFIC for any taxable year may depend in part upon the value of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles not reflected on our balance sheet (which may depend upon the market price of our ADSs or ordinary shares from time to time, which may fluctuate significantly) and also may be affected by how, and how quickly, we spend our liquid assets and the cash we generate from our operations and raise in any offering. In estimating the value of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, we have taken into account our market capitalization. Among other matters, if our market capitalization declines, we may be or become a PFIC for the current or future taxable years because our liquid assets and cash (which are for this purpose considered assets that produce passive income) may then represent a greater percentage of our overall assets. Further, while we believe our classification methodology and valuation approach are reasonable, it is possible that the IRS may challenge our classification or valuation of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, which may result in our being or becoming a PFIC for our taxable year ended December 31, 2019, the current taxable year or one or more future taxable years.

 

 

If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a United States person holds ADSs or ordinary shares, certain adverse United States federal income tax consequences could apply to such United States person. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company.”

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs.

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, in the form of ADSs or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of the ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

 

We are an exempted company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Law (2020 Revision) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties owed to us by our directors under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

 

Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records (save for our memorandum and articles of association) or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our memorandum and articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder resolution or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

 

Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, differ significantly from requirements for companies incorporated in other jurisdictions such as the United States. For example, we have elected to not have our compensation committee consist of entirely independent directors. We reply on certain corporate governance exemptions as described in Item 16G (Corporate Governance) of this annual report. However, if we choose to follow home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

 

As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.

 

 

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

 

We are a Cayman Islands company and the majority of our assets are located and the majority of our operations are conducted outside of the United States. In addition, a majority of our current directors and officers are nationals and residents of countries other than the United States. Substantially all of the assets of these persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of Norway may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

 

We are an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act and may take advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements.

 

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from requirements applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies including, most significantly, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 for so long as we are an emerging growth company. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (a) the last day of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenue of at least US$1.07 billion; (b) the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of this offering; (c) the date on which we have, during the preceding three-year period, issued more than US$1.07 billion in non-convertible debt; or (d) the date on which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of the ADSs that are held by non-affiliates exceeds US$700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter. Once we cease to be an emerging growth company, we will not be entitled to the exemptions provided by the JOBS Act.

 

The JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company does not need to comply with any new or revised financial accounting standards until such date that a private company is otherwise required to comply with such new or revised accounting standards. However, we have elected to “opt out” of this provision and, as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards as required when they are adopted for public companies. This decision to opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act is irrevocable.

 

As an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices for corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the corporate governance listing standards.

 

As a Cayman Islands exempted company listed on the Nasdaq, we are subject to Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards which permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards. For instance, we are not required to: (i) have a majority of the board be independent; (ii) have a compensation committee consisting entirely of independent directors; or (iii) have regularly scheduled executive sessions with only independent directors each year. We rely on certain corporate governance exemptions as described in Item 16G (Corporate Governance) of this annual report. To the extent we choose to follow home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they would otherwise enjoy under the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

 

We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to United States domestic public companies.

 

Because we are a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

 

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K with the SEC;

     
 

the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

     
 

the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

     
 

the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

 

 

We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to continue to publish our results on a quarterly basis through press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC is less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information, which would be made available to you, were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

 

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to vote with respect to the ordinary shares.

 

As a holder of ADSs, you will only be able to exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you must vote by giving voting instructions to the depositary. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will try to vote the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying shares unless you withdraw the shares. Under our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is seven days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to withdraw the shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your shares. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may have no legal remedy if the shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested.

 

ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

 

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our ordinary shares provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, ADS holders waive the right to a jury trial for any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to our shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, including any claim under the U.S. federal securities laws.

 

If we or the depositary were to oppose a jury trial based on this waiver, the court would have to determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of the case in accordance with applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, or by a federal or state court in the City of New York, which has non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial. We believe that this would be the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before investing in the ADSs.

 

If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have, including outcomes that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

 

Nevertheless, if this jury trial waiver is not permitted by applicable law, an action could proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or the ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any substantive provision of the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

 

 

You may not receive dividends or other distributions on our ordinary shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.

 

The depositary has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on the ordinary shares or other deposited securities underlying your ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of the ADSs.

 

You may experience dilution of your holdings due to inability to participate in rights offerings.

 

We may, from time to time, distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire securities. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not distribute rights to holders of ADSs unless the distribution and sale of rights and the securities to which these rights relate are either exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs, or are registered under the provisions of the Securities Act. The depositary may, but is not required to, attempt to sell these undistributed rights to third parties, and may allow the rights to lapse. We may be unable to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act, and we are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to these rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to have a registration statement declared effective. Accordingly, holders of ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution of their holdings as a result.

 

The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources and divert our management’s attention.

 

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and the listing standards of Nasdaq as applicable to a foreign private issuer, which are different in some material respects from those required for a U.S. public company. We expect that the requirements of these rules and regulations will increase our legal, accounting and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time consuming and costly, and place significant strain on our personnel, systems and resources. See “—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry — If we fail to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud.” As a result of disclosure of information in this annual report and in filings required of a public company, our business and financial condition will become more visible, which we believe may result in threatened or actual litigation, including by competitors, shareholders or third parties. If such claims are successful, our business and operating results could be harmed, and even if the claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and harm our business and operating results.

 

 

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A.

History and Development of the Company

 

We trace our history back to 1996 and the launch of the first version of our “Opera” branded browser software. We have since been a pioneer in redefining the web browsing experience, providing personalized content discovery platforms and offering fintech and transactional services for hundreds of millions of global internet users.

 

Opera Limited is an exempted company with limited liability incorporated in March 2018 in the Cayman Islands. We conduct our business mainly through our operating companies, including in particular Opera Norway AS, a private limited liability company incorporated under the laws of Norway. We acquired Opera Norway AS and its subsidiaries on November 3, 2016, from Otello Corporation ASA for a consideration of US$575.0 million, less working capital adjustments. This acquisition included the business of providing Opera’s mobile and PC web browsers, as well as certain related products and services.

 

 

We listed our ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “OPRA” on July 27, 2018. One ADS corresponds to two underlying shares in Opera Limited. On August 9, 2018, we completed the initial public offering of 9,600,000 ADSs, and the underwriters exercised their over-allotment option on the same date for the purchase of an additional 334,672 ADSs. We also sold 9,999,998 shares, equivalent to 4,999,999 ADSs, in a concurrent private placement. Our pre-IPO shareholders held 190,250,000 shares, equivalent to 95,125,000 ADSs. Combined, following the IPO, Opera Limited had 220,119,342 shares outstanding, corresponding to 110,059,671 ADSs. On September 24, 2019, we completed a follow-on public offering of an additional 7,500,000 ADSs, and the underwriters later exercised their over-allotment option for the purchase of an additional 1,125,000 ADSs, which was completed on October 16, 2020. As of the date of this report, net of separately announced repurchases of our own shares and the exercise of employee equity grants, a total of 238,521,354 shares are outstanding, equivalent to 119,260,677 ADSs.

 

Our company is a holding company that does not have substantive operations. We conduct our principal activities through our subsidiaries. Our principal executive offices are located at Vitaminveien 4, 0485 Oslo, Norway. Our telephone number at this address is +47 23 69 24 00

  

B.

Business overview

 

Overview

 

Opera is a leading global internet brand with a large, engaged and growing base of over 350 million average monthly active users in 2019. Building on over 20 years of innovation, starting with our browser products, we are increasingly leveraging our brand as well as our massive and engaged user base in order to expand our offerings and our business. Today, we offer users across Europe, Africa and Asia a range of products and services that include our PC and mobile browsers, our AI-powered content platform Opera News, and our app-based fintech solutions as well as our emerging products such as classifieds. We have also recently initiated a project to provide European banking/payment services.

 

Opera launched one of the world’s first PC browsers in 1996 and introduced the world’s first full web browser for smartphones in 2002. Since then, Opera has remained an innovator in the browser space, launching features including tabbed browsing, data savings, PC/mobile sync, and numerous features focused on privacy and security, including ad blocking and a built-in VPN. Today, our browser products include Opera Mini, Opera for Android, Opera Touch, Opera for Computers and Opera GX, a separate PC browser tailored for gamers. These products averaged approximately 318 million average MAUs in 2019.

 

Opera News, our AI-driven content platform enabled by big data technologies, was launched in 2017 and was initially launched as part of our browser, leveraging our large user base and well-known brand in order to deliver a personalized and relevant content experience at scale. In early 2018, we launched a standalone Opera News app, which now also supports short-form video functionality. Today, Opera News is one of the most downloaded and used global news applications. In 2019, Opera News averaged 124 million MAUs, which included 37 million users from the Opera News app. Additionally, in 2019 Opera News launched Opera News Hub in its initial market of Nigeria. Opera News Hub enables local content creators to publish exclusive content on our platform, which has helped increase engagement on the service by increasing page views and time spent.

 

We rolled out our app-based microfinance service in late 2018, offering instant short-term microloans to approved borrowers under the “OKash” and other local brands, initially in Kenya and subsequently expanding to India and Nigeria (collectively referred to as “OKash”). Our apps are intended to simplify borrowing and provide a high-demand service due to convenience and ease-of-use. As we did with Opera News, we utilize our existing user engagement across our browser and news app in order to promote this product, enabling us to acquire users in a cost-efficient and scaled manner. Our service relies on our large repository of user behavior data as well as AI algorithms in order to credit-score potential borrowers, analyze the purpose of the loan as well as the repayment behavior of borrowers. Our microfinance service disbursed over 15 million short-term microloans in 2019, and millions of users are now logging into our app. In the future, we plan to expand our microfinance offerings to additional markets and broaden our fintech product offerings.

 

Opera Ads is our advertising solution targeting digital agencies, advertisers and brands to connect and engage directly with Opera users through both programmatic and traditional advertising solutions. Launched during the second quarter of 2019, Opera Ads is an important part of our monetization strategy aimed at growing our average revenue per user. Encouraged by its early success, we decided to expand Opera Ads beyond large advertisers to include a focus on small and medium sized enterprises. Specifically, we launched OLeads, a new online lead generation platform for small and medium sized enterprises in Nigeria to maximize their visibility through enabling their online presence.

 

 

In August 2019 we launched a classifieds product, OList, a free online marketplace and e-commerce platform in Nigeria, designed for individuals and corporate businesses to advertise, market, purchase or sell goods and services. OList is also focused on becoming heavily involved in several high value categories including real estate/rentals and used cars, where there is an opportunity for Opera to create transparent and robust marketplaces and to participate in, or facilitate, transactions.

 

As we have done with Opera News, OKash, Opera Ads, OList and OLeads, we intend to continue to leverage our brand as well as our large and engaged user base to launch additional consumer facing products in the future. In addition to our efforts around creating a robust classifieds marketplace and taking deeper measures in certain high-value verticals, we have announced our intention to launch fintech products that will be offered to our large user base in Europe.

 

Our Products and Users

 

Our products for users include (i) the web browsers Opera Mini, Opera for Android, Opera Touch, Opera for Computers and Opera GX, (ii) the standalone personalized news aggregation app Opera News and our emerging markets fintech apps, which includes microfinance and other capabilities, and (iii) the intelligent online marketing platforms Opera Ads, OList and OLeads. Our cloud-based technologies enable hundreds of millions of users to discover and interact with the content and services that matter most to them. The application of leading AI-powered technologies and advanced data analytics and the recommendation engine built into our browsers and news app, and other products and services, give our users a better, faster and more personalized online experience and enable advertisers to target relevant users in a more precise way.

 

 

Our Mobile Browsers: Opera Mini, Opera for Android and Opera Touch

 

We currently have three mobile browser products: Opera Mini, Opera for Android and Opera Touch. Our mobile browser products are fast, and optimized for mobile browsing. All mobile browsers come with native ad blockers, which provide users with the option to further increase browser speed by blocking ads that are often slow and intrusive.

 

First launched in 2006, Opera Mini is a mobile browser that provides a faster browser experience on practically any smartphone or feature phone. Through the application of advanced data compression and saving technologies, Opera Mini has enabled hundreds of millions of users around the world to access the internet through their mobile devices, providing a reliable browsing experience regardless of their network conditions. Opera Mini is a cloud-based browser that is fast to install and takes up very little space on a user’s mobile phone. When browsing with Opera Mini, the data traffic can go through Opera servers, which compress web pages, including text and images, towards only 10% of their original size, reducing the amount of data that needs to be sent over mobile networks that are often congested. Moreover, the reduced data traffic consumption provides users with a significantly lower data cost compared to the default browser found on their phones.

 

Launched in 2013, Opera for Android is our flagship Android smartphone browser. It comes with a full browser engine, based on the Chromium project, and a user-friendly interface designed to give users a fast browsing experience on high-end smartphones. Opera for Android is a powerful and feature-rich browser, and is optimized for mobile phones with larger screens and tablets. In December 2018, Opera for Android became the first browser to feature an integrated Crypto Wallet, making it easy to use Ethereum based cryptocurrencies and blockchain powered web applications. The browser also enables users to block annoying cookie dialogs, and in March 2019, the browser became the first major mobile browser to ship with an integrated VPN solution.

 

We launched our newest mobile browser, Opera Touch, in the second quarter of 2018 for Android and in the fourth quarter of 2018 for iOS. Opera Touch is designed for mobile phone users to use the browser with one hand while they are on the move. It is also designed to let users share content from Opera Touch to their other devices in a faster and easier fashion than with other mobile browsers. We believe Opera Touch is a great companion app for our PC browser. The Opera Touch browser has won both the Red Dot Award in Communication Design 2018 and the iF DESIGN AWARD 2019 for its unique design and usability. Opera Touch is today the only browser we offer for iOS that offers a rich feature set including a native ad-blocker, a Crypto Wallet and the Flow feature that enables users to continue browsing across their devices.

 

Our mobile browser users

 

Our mobile browser user base reached 251.9 million average MAUs in 2019, of which 189.9 million were smartphone users and 62 million were feature phone users. Our smartphone user base continues to grow throughout the world. The growth rate of our mobile browser user base has historically been strongest in regions where users had the greatest need for fast browsers on limited mobile networks, and often paid a relatively higher cost for data relative to their income. As a result, our mobile browsers have been very popular in Africa and South Asia. Further, we have seen organic mobile browser growth in Europe relating to the increase in users of Opera for Computers in the region.

 

Our PC browser: Opera for Computers and Opera GX

 

Opera for Computers is one of the most innovative and differentiated PC browsers on the market, catering to the high-end user segment that requires performance and features beyond those offered by the default system browsers on both Windows and macOS. Opera for Computers uses an Opera-tuned version of the Chromium browsing engine carefully optimized for performance metrics such as speed and laptop battery consumption. In addition, we provide users with unique features that are not found in other major web browsers, including a free, built-in VPN service that enhances user privacy and security, especially for laptops on public networks, subject to compliance with relevant local regulatory requirements. The browser also includes a battery-saving mode that can increase battery life by up to 50%, and a native ad block feature that increases page loading speeds by up to five times. Our PC browser makes it easier to shop online with built-in currency and foreign unit conversion, and makes communication easier by embedding social network services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and VKontakte in the browser’s sidebar.

 

In the first quarter of 2019, we launched a redesigned PC browser codenamed R3, becoming the first PC browser with Web 3 support, powering a year-to-year PC browser MAU growth of 14% in a mature market.

 

 

Opera GX, which launched in the second quarter of 2019, is a PC web browser tailored for gamers. Opera GX allows PC gamers to customize and tune their browsers to improve their gaming experience. In September 2019, Opera GX won the Red Dot Award in the Interface and User Experience Design category. The product has grown rapidly with strong engagement, including reaching 1 million downloads approximately three months after launch.  

 

Our PC browser users

 

We have a large and active global PC user base with 66.4 million average MAUs in 2019, reaching 67.6 million average MAUs in the fourth quarter of 2019, up 11% year-over-year. Our PC browser user base has historically been prominent in regions that value our innovations in browser technology. As a result, our strongest PC region has been Europe, representing the majority of our user base. In addition, we have experienced significant growth in other geographies such as Asia and the Americas in 2019.

 

Our AI-powered news and content recommendations service: Opera News

 

Leveraging our massive user base and innovation capability, we launched the Opera News service in January 2017. Opera News is our AI-powered personalized news discovery and aggregation service. The service is both featured prominently as part of our browsers, and also made available as a standalone app and website. By providing AI-powered news and content recommendations, we have increased both user activity and the amount of time users spend in our online ecosystem. This has supported an attractive revenue growth trajectory that is predictable, recurring and fully scalable as well as an ability to promote other Opera products.

 

Key Opera News Features        

 

We use our proprietary AI technologies to curate and intelligently recommend news, articles, videos and other online content that may be of interest to our users. Users can conveniently access this content through real-time intelligent ranking, top news and push notification features. Moreover, Opera News utilizes natural language processing and other technologies to quickly process linguistic differences and nuances to assess and recommend online content across different languages and cultures. When using an Opera product powered by our AI recommendation engine, people can efficiently discover and share online content that appeals to them.

 

In addition, we have been constantly innovating Opera News with new features and functions for our users. In December 2018, we launched Instaclips, a streaming video feature within the platform that is designed to captivate and engage our users with easy-to-consume, interest-based, short-form video clips. In September 2019, we launched Opera News Hub in Nigeria, a platform which enables content creators to publish and monetize through Opera News. Opera News Hub has further improved engagement metrics, with increases in article clicks, reading time, and app time spend. We plan to expand Opera News Hub to four additional African countries beyond Nigeria in 2020.

 

Our Opera News users

 

Growing the size of our Opera News user base and increasing engagement is one of our strategic priorities. Since its launch in January 2017, its user base reached 124 million average MAUs in 2019 across those users that accessed Opera News from within Opera browsers and those that accessed it from the dedicated Opera News app. Leveraging our established monetization channels, the platform generated immediate revenues and serves as an additional access portal to partners and publishers.

 

We launched the standalone Opera News app on the Google Play Store and other Android app stores for certain African markets in January 2018. Within four weeks of its launch, the Opera News app generated over one million downloads and was the most downloaded app on the Google Play Store in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana. From an initial focus on Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, to the Ivory Coast to better serve French speaking African countries, as well as Egypt for North Africa, we have also expanded our presence in India and Indonesia successfully following the same model. As a result, in the second quarter of 2019, Opera News app was identified by Sensor Tower, as the top downloaded global news app. The Opera News app user base has experienced rapid growth since its launch, averaging 36.9 million MAUs in 2019. We expect to attract additional users by expanding Opera News Hub and creating additional access points including a light version of the app for lower-end smartphones.

 

 

Our emerging market fintech apps: OKash, and other local brands

 

Our emerging market fintech apps offer instant microloans to approved borrowers under “OKash” and other local brands. The apps are designed for young consumers with an income and are intended to simplify borrowing for "last mile" financial inclusion. Our microfinance service is unique as it uses artificial intelligence technologies to analyze the purpose of the loans as well as the repayment behavior of borrowers. We work to create an accessible credit product with similar use cases as a credit card would have in developed markets that result in high levels of repeat usage. We take our social responsibility seriously, and offer only limited loan amounts to first-time borrowers. Further, to date, we have effectively capped interest charges for all users that are not able to repay on time, such that our claims have never exceed twice the original amounts due. We have also, to date, elected not to bring legal collections proceedings against any borrower that did not pay us back.

 

In 2019, we have made tremendous progress scaling our microfinance business since launching in Kenya in December 2018. Besides scaling in Kenya, we expanded our footprint, most notably to India. In 2019, we disbursed about 15 million short duration microloans globally. Further, AI technologies and a growing base of recurring users enabled us to decrease non-performing loans as the year progressed. In the fourth quarter of 2019, non-performing loans had been reduced to approximately 5.5% of total loan value, supported by about 80% of loans being granted to returning users. Our microfinance business has proven to be a new and profitable user-driven opportunity that we believe has benefited from our existing reach and scale as well as from strong user reviews in Google Play. Further, we expect to expand to additional countries and launch additional fintech products to leverage the large base of users that are engaging with our fintech apps. We also expect further improvements in the credit scoring AI technologies and business processes including collections, which could enable us to serve a broader set of customers and expand our offering.

 

Our intelligent online marketing platforms: Opera Ads, OList and OLeads

 

In May 2019, we launched Opera Ads, a new platform to facilitate both traditional and programmatic access to Opera’s advertising inventory. Based on user intent and contextual relevance, Opera Ads offers an intelligent advertising solution to digital agencies, advertisers and brands to connect and engage directly with the Opera audiences. Opera Ads is available in both traditional and programmatic buying models and is a strong alternative to advertisers in key regions where we have significant scale and reach, e.g. sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Encouraged by its early success, we expanded Opera Ads beyond large advertisers to include a focus on small and medium sized enterprises. In September 2019, we launched OLeads, a new online lead generation platform for small and medium sized enterprises in Nigeria to maximize their visibility and online presence. OLeads offers user-friendly tools which enable users to come online easily for their marketing campaign. Once registered with OLeads, users can choose between a wide variety of website templates which they can personalize according to their own business needs. By simply dragging and dropping text, images and call-to-action modules, users can have their business landing page up and running in minutes. OLeads also allows users to manage the data generated from their websites. In addition, OLeads integrates seamlessly into the contextual advertising platform, Opera Ads, with direct access to Opera’s huge user base in Nigeria.

 

In August 2019 we launched a classifieds product, OList, an online marketplace in Nigeria and an e-commerce platform, designed for individuals and corporate businesses to advertise, market, purchase or sell goods and services. OList offers a wide variety of products and services and has been focusing on becoming heavily involved in several high value categories, including real estate, rentals and used cars, where there is an opportunity for us to create transparent and robust marketplaces and to participate in and/or facilitate transactions. These categories represent large revenue opportunities and the potential to solve inefficiencies or challenges for users and suppliers in these markets. Since its launch to the end of 2019, OList attracted more than 2 million listings in its websites, with more than 4 million monthly visiting users.

 

Our partners

 

Monetization partners

 

Our monetization partners are companies that benefit from our online marketing and advertising services, including search engines, e-commerce and travel agencies and digital advertising platforms. Through placement of shortcuts, or Speed Dials, and advertisements in our browsers and apps, we have the ability to direct traffic to the websites of both global and local partners that provide services to our users. These companies pay us either for referring traffic to them or for displaying their advertisements.

 

 

Search Providers

 

We partner with internet search providers like Google and Yandex and have worked closely with them for over 15 years. These partnerships make available best-in-class search technology to our users and enhance the visibility of our brand. We share the revenue generated by our search partners when our users conduct searches initiated within the URL bar, default search page or search boxes embedded in our PC and mobile browsers.

 

We have had a search distribution agreement with Google since 2001. We entered into our current search distribution agreement with Google in 2012 with a two-year term. The agreement has since been amended and restated several times, with the term of the most current version extending to December 2020. Google may also extend the term by an additional 12-month period by providing 30 days written notice to us. We have had a search partner agreement with Yandex since 2007. We entered into our current partner agreement with Yandex in 2012 with a five-year initial term. The initial term has subsequently been extended twice and now extends until April 2023. Following the initial term, the partner agreement automatically renews for additional two-year periods unless written notice is given by either party at least 30 days prior to the automatic renewal. Our agreements with Google and Yandex are subject to customary events of default, including failure to make payments, material breach, liquidation, as well as other termination trigger events as provided therein.

 

E-commerce and online travel agencies

 

We work closely with large, global e-commerce and online travel agencies, such as Booking.com, Amazon, AliExpress and eBay, as well as strong local brands like Flipkart, Tokopedia, Lazada and others. The value of these partnerships continues to rise through increased user engagement with such popular services within our browsers, as well as deeper integration of services and our AI technology, which allows for more accurate suggestions, price comparisons, personalized landing pages and one-click purchases.

 

We earn revenue from transactions initiated by our directed users via links provided on our Speed Dial homepage and other advertisements, typically in the form of a defined share of the revenue generated by these service providers.

 

Digital advertising platforms

 

We have established relationships with leading digital advertising platforms such as Google AdSense, AdMob by Google, Audience Network by Facebook and Baidu.

 

We allow these digital advertising platforms to display their advertisement inventories on our browsers and recognize revenue based on the amounts we are entitled to receive from such advertising partners. We also sell select premium advertising placements, such as banners, interstitials, videos, sponsored articles and notifications to global and local advertisers.

 

Retail sales

 

Our underlying browser business puts us in the position of being the gateway to the web. The ongoing consumer shift from offline retail to online shopping means this is an attractive position for us. We have established relationships with certain mobile operators and vendors of mobile handsets, prepaid airtime and data in an effort to begin to explore ways in which we can capitalize on our position and build our brand through direct retail sales. We began retail sales of prepaid airtime and data, and eventually mobile handsets, to local consumers and wholesalers in the second half of 2018. Our focus has been maintaining our retail business at current volumes, in order to support adjacent potential opportunities.

 

Content Partners

 

We have formed strong relationships with high profile media companies, while also focusing on regional and local content providers in key markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Indonesia. These relationships enable us to obtain comprehensive news and other content that we can make available to users on our platform, provide more publicity for our content provider partners and generate revenues through the placement of advertising within our news service. Further, we are increasingly focused on the creation of exclusive local content through Opera News Hub. We also analyze users’ behavior to improve the relevance of the news stories and advertisements that we show to each user based on their preferences.

 

Distribution Partners

 

We have long-term relationships with device manufacturers and chipset vendors worldwide, including many of the largest smartphone brands, such as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo. This ensures cost-efficient and reliable distribution benefitting both these distribution partners and us. We cooperate with global OEMs at favorable rates based upon activation of pre-installations.

 

 

Technology

 

Technology is key to our success as it enables us to innovate, improve our users' experience and operate our business more efficiently. Our technology team is composed of highly skilled engineers, computer scientists and technicians whose expertise spans a wide range of areas. As of December 31, 2019, we employed a team of approximately 550 engineering and data analytics personnel, mainly located in Poland, China and Sweden, engaged in building our technology platform and developing new Opera products and services. Likewise, in January 2020 we acquired a company in Estonia with banking-as-a-service technology and a skilled Estonian fintech team to support our existing Swedish and Polish team in our European financial services initiative.

 

Artificial Intelligence

 

Through AI technologies, we have transformed our browsers and other products and services into an AI-powered content discovery and recommendation platform that provides our users with personalized news, videos and other online content. We leverage data from our existing user base and technologies, such as natural language processing, computer visioning and image recognition, deep learning and collaborative filtering, to develop our AI-powered content discovery and recommendation platform that we integrate into a variety of our products and services. Our AI platform evaluates billions of potentially correlated data points between each item of online content and each individual user to provide personalized content recommendations of high interest to our users. We have also integrated AI technologies into our microfinance offerings to improve credit scoring capabilities.

 

Our key AI technologies implement the following powerful features:

 

 

Natural Language Processing. We use natural language processing, or NLP, and deep learning models to analyze, sort, extract, classify, process and better understand news content. Using NLP, we can quickly incorporate new languages into our AI-powered content discovery and recommendation platform. Our deep learning models, which include word embedding, advanced recurrent neural networks (e.g., long short-term memory and gated recurrent units), convolutional neural networks and attention-based deep neural networks, help us to extract keywords and tag topics and concepts. For example, with advanced NLP technology, Opera News can make intelligent recommendations among local news in Swahili to users in Africa who chose Swahili as their preferred language.

     
 

Computer Vision for Images and Videos. We analyze the images and videos that are associated with online text to better understand the content and optimize our recommendation engines. Deep learning is at the core of our image and video understanding technologies. Our deep learning convolutional neural network-based models analyze images and videos frame-by-frame and classify them into content categories that our recommendation engine refers to when recommending content to users.

     
 

Personalized Click Prediction Model. We developed a large-scale and personalized recommendation and click prediction ranking model that is based on real-time user interactions. Tens of billions of feature sets employ a Gradient Boost Decision Tree, or GBDT, model for raw feature transformation and large-scale Logistic Regression combined with Factorization Machine with attention mechanism and another Deep Neural Network model to output the click prediction of a user to a certain news article to decide the ranking of news article recommendations for such user.

     
 

Neural Collaborative Filtering and Networks. Our neural collaborative filtering technology uses deep learning based word-to-vector and embedding models that examine and assess more variables and allows for more intelligent filtered results than traditional user-based and item-based collaborative filtering technologies. Moreover, we developed multi-dimensional vector-based interest representations of user profiles that are more data rich than simple tag-based representations and combine them with deep layers of neural networks to create more accurate and personalized recommendations for our users.

 

 

Big Data Capabilities

 

We are able to quickly develop and scale our presence across different geographies, languages and cultures because of our big data capabilities. We have multiple data centers distributed across three continents that support massive petabyte-level distributed data storage and allow us to process in real-time hundreds of terabytes of data related to our users every day. We use data mining and analytics technologies to find patterns in the large amounts of data we collect, which helps us to understand our users and provide them with better content recommendations.

 

Cloud Compression Technologies

 

Our compression technologies, Turbo and OBML, are advanced compression technologies that are built into our apps to optimize data traffic and connection times for our users. These technologies allow our browsers to load web pages faster by downloading less data. Today, Turbo is our standard compression mode for high-end smartphones and computers, while OBML, adapted exclusively for Opera Mini, provides an extreme compression mode, which compresses web content by up to 90%, providing a good web browsing experience even on the most limited mobile data networks.

 

Network Infrastructure

 

We have built a reliable and secure network infrastructure that will fully support our operations. Our physical network infrastructure utilizes our data centers that are linked with high-speed networking. We have developed our architecture to work effectively in a flexible cloud environment that has a high degree of elasticity. Our automatic provisioning tools have enabled us to increase our storage and computing capacity in a short period of time in response to increasing demand for our services. Our proprietary network application protocols ensure fast and reliable mobile communications under different network conditions in the various markets where we operate. The aim is to provide a consistent user experience across different devices, operating systems, carriers and network environments.

 

As of December 31, 2019, we owned approximately 7,000 servers in seven internet data centers located in The Netherlands (two locations), Russia, the United States (two locations), Singapore and Nigeria, with an additional location opened in Kenya in January 2020. As of December 31, 2019, our data centers had a total connectivity bandwidth of 1.012 Tbps (max throughput), an increase of 13.7% versus December 31, 2018. We have also expanded our large-scale AI computing service cluster, including GPU processors, to provide computing power for our AI technologies.

 

Crypto Wallet

 

In 2018, we introduced a Crypto Wallet inside our browsers, enabling access to a new generation of blockchain-based Web 3 applications. This allows users to interact with these applications, send or receive various kinds of crypto-currencies to sites and users, as well as identify themselves to sites and hold unique digital items from blockchain-based games. Opera supports several blockchains including Ethereum, Bitcoin and Tron, as well as a large number of crypto-currencies.

 

Our Investments

 

Our business includes investments in certain associates and joint ventures:

 

Opay Limited, or OPay, an associate in which we originally held 19.9% interest in December 2018 and now currently hold a 13.1% equity interest, launched its mobile money services in 2018. OPay focused its efforts in Nigeria, a market characterized by a massive, un-banked population with low mobile money penetration. OPay has an agent-centric operation as a means to reach the underserved population. In November 2019, OPay had recruited 140,000 agents with average daily transaction volume in excess of US$10 million, placing Opay among top-tier mobile money providers in Nigeria less than one year after launch. OPay has also launched additional services such as ridesharing to increase engagement and usage of its platform.

 

Powerbets Holdings Limited, or Powerbets, a joint venture in which Opera has a 50.1% equity interest, provides a platform for sports betting, virtual sports betting, and gaming services throughout Africa. Having one of the largest gaming footprints in Africa, Powerbets operates in eights African markets.

 

nHorizon Innovation (Beijing) Software Ltd., or nHorizon, a joint venture in which Opera has a 29.1% equity interest, operates an Opera browser in China. nHorizon’s monetization partners include Baidu, Sogou and others. nHorizon consists of nHorizon Innovation (Beijing) Software Limited and nHorizon Infinite (Beijing) Software Limited. The joint venture was co-founded by Otello Corporation ASA and Telling Telecom in August 2011. We acquired the investment in nHorizon as a result of the acquisition of Opera Norway AS in 2016.  

 

 

StarMaker Inc, or StarMaker, an associate in which we invested US$30 million on November 5, 2018, in exchange for preferred shares in the company, resulting in a 19.4% equity interest, is a technology-driven social media company focused on music and entertainment. StarMaker enables users to record and share their own music videos, collaborate with other musicians, connect with other users and follow their idols on the social platform. StarMaker continued its revenue growth during 2019, with revenues totaling approximately US$21 million. In 2020, the company plans to expand into new markets (South-East Asia), to reach more users. The growing user base, coupled with improvements such as enhanced live streaming features in its products, is expected to increase revenues for 2020. During 2019, StarMaker expanded into short-form music and video clips of a more viral nature, and revenues increased in excess of 140%, compared to 2018. The preferred shares have dividend and liquidation preference. As part of the investment, Opera also obtained an option to increase our ownership to 51% in the second half of the year 2020.

 

User Privacy and Safety

 

The vitality and integrity of our user base is the cornerstone of our business. We dedicate significant resources to the goal of strengthening our user base through developing and implementing programs designed to protect user privacy, promote a safe environment, and ensure the security of user data. We also implement unique features in our products to protect users’ online digital presence, such as a free, no-log VPN service, native ad blocking and anti-tracking options.

 

Our privacy statements seek to describe our data use practices and how privacy works on our platforms in a user-friendly manner. We provide users with adequate notice as to what data is being collected and undertake to manage and use the data collected in accordance with applicable laws. We serve our European users from our business establishment in Norway and consequently all our processing of the personal data of such users is conducted in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. We serve our users outside of Europe primarily from our business establishment in Singapore. Regardless, we consider the protection of the personal privacy of each of our users to be of paramount importance.

 

We continuously strive to prevent unauthorized use, loss or leak of user data. In addition, we use a variety of technologies to protect the data with which we are entrusted and have a team of privacy professionals dedicated to the ongoing review and monitoring of data security practices. For example, we store all user data in an encrypted format and strictly limit the number of personnel who can access servers that store user data. For our external interfaces, we also utilize demilitarized zones and firewalls to protect against potential attacks or unauthorized access.

 

Product Marketing and Distribution

 

Our main source of marketing for our products and services is “word-of-mouth” from our large user base. The trust and reliance that our users place in us is a key growth driver of our business, since prospective users that hear positive feedback from their friends and colleagues about our products and services are more likely to try them. In 2019, organic installs represented approximately 63% of our new smartphone users. In parallel, we invest in advertising campaigns and paid online promotions to reach prospective users. We also cooperate with industry partners to promote our products. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions.” In 2019, approximately 8% of new smartphone users originated from our paid online promotions. We normally set an annual budget for the overall spending on paid online promotions. In addition, we work closely with key device manufacturers and chipset vendors worldwide to pre-install Opera products and co-market our products and services. In 2019, approximately 29% of new smartphone users came from such partners. We have long-standing relationships covering most of the largest smartphone brands, including Samsung, Huawei, OPPO and Tecno.

 

Our products are available through our official website, www.opera.com, as well as the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

 

Competition

 

We face intense competition with regards to all of the products and services we offer. In the browser space, we generally compete with other global browser developers, including Google (Chrome browser), Apple (Safari browser) and Microsoft (Internet Explorer and Edge browsers) that distribute their browsers via proprietary operating systems and devices, and with other regional internet companies that have strong positions in particular countries. In the content space, we face competition from other internet companies promoting their own content products and services globally, including Google, Apple and Facebook, and traditional media such as global or regional newspapers and magazines. Unlike some other large competitors, we primarily focus on key growth markets outside North America, which enables us to integrate unique content to local Opera News users via our evolving AI-powered content discovery and recommendation platform. In addition, we compete with all major internet companies for user attention and advertising spend.

 

 

In microfinance we face significant competition from large, venture backed global microfinance providers such as Tala and Branch, incumbent banks and local players. We believe our advantages include scale, a large user base to promote our products, strong AI technology for credit scoring and a substantial in-market presence and operational expertise in key geographies.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We regard our patents, copyrights, service marks, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual properties as critical to our success. We rely on patents, trademarks, and copyrights, trade secret protection, and non-competition, confidentiality, and license agreements with our employees, customers, partners and others to protect our intellectual property rights. Despite our precautions, it may be possible for third parties to obtain and use our intellectual properties without authorization. Furthermore, the validity, enforceability and scope of protection of intellectual property rights in internet-related industries are uncertain and still evolving.

 

As of December 31, 2019, we had 179 active registrations of the OPERA, Opera with Red O (both old and new versions) and OPERA SOFTWARE trademarks in 92 countries/regions and 18 applications in 10 additional countries/regions. We also had 167 active registrations of the “O” logo in 73 countries/regions and 25 applications in seven countries. Our main classes are 9, 35, 38 and 42. Opera also has a patent portfolio that includes 22 patents issued in the United States as well as certain international patent registrations. In addition, as of December 31, 2019, we had over 900 registered domain names related to our business.

 

Norwegian Regulations

 

Regulations on Foreign Investments

 

There are currently no general restrictions on foreign investments in Norway, but national restrictions exist on ownership of natural resources and on some specific activities (fishing, maritime transport and media). The Norwegian government also applies a “qualified ownership” test for significant ownership positions within the financial sector.

 

Regulations on Dividend Distributions

 

The Norwegian Private Limited Companies Act, or the PLCA, chapter 8 includes certain constraints on the distribution of dividends from Norwegian subsidiaries.

 

Section 8-1 of the PLCA provides that a Norwegian company may distribute dividends up to its distributable equity, to the extent that its net assets following the distribution covers the (i) share capital, (ii) reserve for valuation variances and (iii) reserve for unrealized gains. The total nominal value of treasury shares which the Norwegian company has acquired for ownership or as security prior to the balance sheet date, as well as credit and security to related parties shall be deducted from the distributable equity.

 

Dividends are declared by a shareholders’ resolution based on a recommendation from the board of directors. The calculation of the distributable equity is made on the basis of the balance sheet included in the latest approved annual accounts, provided, however, that the registered share capital as of the date of the resolution to distribute dividends shall be applied. Following the approval of the annual accounts for the last financial year, the shareholders may also authorize the board of directors to declare dividends on the basis of its annual accounts. Dividends may also be resolved by a shareholders’ resolution based on an interim balance sheet which has been prepared and audited in accordance with the provisions applying to the annual accounts and with a balance sheet date not further into the past than six months before the date of the resolution.

 

Dividends can only be distributed to the extent that the Norwegian company’s equity and liquidity following the distribution is considered sound. Dividends may be paid in cash or in some instances in kind.

 

The PLCA does not provide for any time limit after which entitlement to dividends lapses. Subject to various exceptions, Norwegian law provides a limitation period of three years from the date on which an obligation is due. There are no dividend restrictions or specific procedures for non-Norwegian shareholders to claim dividends, however withholding tax may apply.

 

Regulations on Foreign Exchange

 

There are currently no foreign exchange control restrictions in Norway that would potentially restrict the payment of dividends to a shareholder outside Norway. There is no maximum transferable amount either to or from Norway, although transferring banks are required to submit reports on foreign currency exchange transactions into and out of Norway into a central data register maintained by the Norwegian customs and excise authorities. The Norwegian police, tax authorities, customs and excise authorities, the National Insurance Administration and the Norwegian FSA have electronic access to the data in this register.

 

Regulations on Information Technology and Intellectual Property Rights

 

Norway adheres to key international agreements for the protection of intellectual property rights, hereunder the Paris Union Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Berne Copyright Convention, Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, Rome Convention and the TRIPS agreement.

 

The main acts governing intellectual property rights in Norway are the Patents Act of December 15, 1967, Designs Act of March 14, 2003, Trademarks Act of March 26, 2010, Copyrights Act of June 15, 2018 and Marketing Act of January 9, 2009. The latter also protects trade secrets.

 

Trademarks, designs and patents shall be registered upon application to the Norwegian Industrial Property Office, or the NIPO, in order to be valid in Norway. Patent applications which have been granted at the European Patent Office can be validated in Norway upon application to the NIPO.

 

Regulations on Data Protection and Information Security

 

The principal data protection legislation in Norway is the Personal Data Act of June 15, 2018 no. 38. The purpose of the act is to protect natural persons from violation of their right to privacy through the processing of personal data. The new Personal Data Act implements 2016/679/EU - General Data Protection Regulation, on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (or “GDPR”) in its entirety. The Personal Data Act applies to processing of personal data conducted in Norway, regardless of whether the processing takes place within the EEA. The Act also applies to processing of personal data of data subjects who are in Norway by an entity not established in the EEA, where the processing is linked to the offering of goods or services to such data subject in Norway or the monitoring of their behavior as far at their behavior takes place in Norway.

 

 

Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and the Prevention of Terrorism Financing

 

The Norwegian Anti-Money Laundering Act of June 1, 2018 and the Anti-Money Laundering Regulation of September 14, 2018, both entered into force on October 15, 2018. The purpose of this legislation is to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing. The legislation is based on the EU Fourth Money Laundering Directive (Directive EU 2015/849) and FATF Recommendations. The legislation applies to reporting entities, such as banks, investment firms, insurance companies, etc. Reporting entities are obliged to apply a risk based approach when determining measures against money laundering and terrorist financing, including the performance of required customer due diligence measures. If a reporting entity detects circumstances which may indicate that funds are associated with money laundering or terrorist financing, further examinations shall be conducted. If the reporting entity after such examinations suspects that funds are the proceeds of a criminal activity, or are related to terrorist financing, it is required to report its suspicions to the Norwegian national financial intelligence unit. The Company is not a reporting entity according to this legislation.

 

C.

Organizational Structure

 

The chart below summarizes our corporate structure and identifies our principal subsidiaries and their places of incorporation as of the date of this annual report: 

 

 

Notes:
(1) 20% held by a nominee shareholders.

(2) 0.01% held by Kunhoo Software Ltd.
(3) 1% held by O-Play Kenya Limited.
(4) Variable interest entity contractually controlled by Opesa South Africa (Pty) Limited.
(5) Formerly known as Opera Software AS.
(6) 1% held by Oplay Digital Services S.A. De C.V.
(7) 15% held by two local partners.
(8) Variable interest entity contractually controlled by Opera Software International AS.

 

D.

Property, Plants and Equipment

 

Our corporate headquarters is located in Oslo, Norway. Our principal technical development facilities are located in Wroclaw, Poland, Beijing, China and both Linköping and Gothenburg, Sweden. We also have offices in Nigeria, India, Ireland, Estonia, Mexico, and Kenya among other countries.

 

 

Our servers are hosted in leased data centers, primarily in the Netherlands, the United States, Nigeria and Singapore, with an additional small data center in Russia. The data centers in our network are owned and maintained for us by major domestic and international data center providers. We generally enter into leasing and hosting service agreements with renewal terms that range from one to three years.

 

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.

 

For discussion of 2017 items and year-over-year comparisons between 2018 and 2017 that are not included in this annual report on Form 20-F, refer to “Item 5. – Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” found in our Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2018, that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 17, 2019.

 

A.

Operating Results

 

Major Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

 

Our business and operating results are affected by general factors affecting the global online content consumption, e-commerce and fintech industries, which include:

 

 

overall global economic growth;

     
 

mobile and PC internet usage and penetration rate by geography;

     
 

growth of online content consumption, and its popularity as an advertising medium;

     
 

growth of online commerce and related advertising;

     
 

growth of mobile money solutions and traditional banking alternatives; and

     
 

governmental policies and initiatives affecting online content consumption, and e-commerce, and fintech.

 

While our business is influenced by these general factors, we believe our results of operations are more directly affected by company specific factors, including the following major factors:

 

Our Ability to Maintain and Expand Our User Base, and Maintain and Enhance User Engagement

 

Our user base is important for our revenue generation, both because its sheer size makes us an attractive partner for search and advertising partners, and in terms of directly impacting our user-generated revenues. The following table presents certain of our user metrics for the periods indicated:

 

   

Three months ended(1)

 
   

Mar 31, 2018

   

Jun 30, 2018

   

Sept 30, 2018

   

Dec 31, 2018

   

Mar 31, 2019

   

Jun 30, 2019

   

Sept 30, 2019

   

Dec 31, 2019

 
   

(in millions)

 

Smartphone browser average MAUs

    182.0       174.3       178.6       188.5       190.0       190.2       190.9       188.5  

Smartphone total average MAUs

    184.3       182.2       196.0       208.0       221.4       226.7       232.0       227.4  

PC browser average MAUs

    57.4       57.1       58.4       60.9       65.1       65.0       67.8       67.6  

Opera News average MAUs (2)

    90.2       101.0       121.4       134.1       149.7       162.9       169.0       162.8  

 


 

(1)

Average across the three months included in each period, with each month calculated as of its final day using a 30-day look back window.

 

(2)

Includes Opera News users within our browsers as well as the dedicated Opera News app.

 

 

Our total browser average MAUs in the three months ended December 31, 2019 was 316.2 million including 248.6 million mobile browser users and 67.6 million PC browser users. Our mobile browser users included 188.5 million smartphone users and 60.1 million feature phone users.

 

Our total smartphone average MAUs in the three months ended December 31, 2019 was 227.4 million. This figure is comprised of the 188.5 million smartphone browser users, and the 38.9 million users of the dedicated Opera News app.

 

Our smartphone browser user base followed a positive growth trend across 2017, 2018 and 2019, adding 28.5 million MAUs over that period. As we oriented our marketing and distribution efforts around the new dedicated Opera News app during 2019, our overall smartphone user base grew faster than the browser subset, adding a total of 67.4 million in 2019 alone.

  

Our ability to continue to effectively maintain and expand our user base will affect the growth of our business and our revenues going forward. We generate revenues from our business partners, including search providers and advertisers, who are drawn to our platform in part because of the size of our user base, its attractive demographics, and our level of user engagement. Our ability to maintain and expand our user base, as well as maintain and enhance user engagement, depends on, among other things, the effectiveness of our marketing and distribution spend, our ability to continuously offer comprehensive and effective products and services, recommend personalized content through technological innovation and provide a superior content discovery experience.

 

Our Ability to Monetize

 

We have long and deep relationships with our monetization partners. Changes in the revenue sharing or fee arrangements with our key monetization partners may materially affect our revenues, although we have not seen material impacts to our revenues over the 2017 to 2019 period from such pricing related factors. However, for example, a change in the revenue sharing percentage paid by certain of our major partners such as Google or Yandex, or a change in their payment policies or other contractual arrangements, could impact our revenues, either positively or negatively. Likewise, with respect to certain major advertising partners, changes in the fee rate we receive per click or per sale may affect our revenues.

 

Further, our revenue generation is affected by our ability to promote and improve our users’ experience with our partners’ services, and our ability to open advertising inventory.

 

In 2019, we had more than 400 monetization partners. We intend to maintain and deepen our relationships with current partners and attract more partners to increase and diversify our revenue sources. Our ability to further increase the number of partners primarily depends on whether we can provide integrated marketing services and help them more precisely reach their targeted users through our AI-powered content discovery platform.

 

Our Brand Recognition and Market Leadership

 

We believe that the strong brand recognition of “Opera” is a key element of our success. Our ability to maintain our massive user base and brand recognition as a leading independent browser and content discovery platform is key to our ability to maintain and enhance relationships with our users, monetization partners, content partners and distribution partners. In addition, the reputation and attractiveness of our platform among internet users also serves as a highly efficient marketing channel for our new products and services.

 

Our Ability to Manage Our Operating Expenses

 

Our long-term results of operations further depend on our ability to manage our operating expenses. Our operating expenses consist primarily of staff cost, marketing and distribution expenses, loss related to changes in fair value of loans to customers, cost of revenue, server hosting expenses and rent. We expect the absolute amount of staff cost, server hosting expenses and rent to increase as we grow our business and as we make necessary adjustments to operate as a public company. We anticipate further investing in our growth by incurring increased staff costs from new business initiatives as well as increased loss related to changes in fair value of loans to customers (primarily driven by realized and expected cash shortfalls, i.e., credit losses) and cost of revenue driven mainly by microlending revenues, the new revenue category which scaled rapidly through 2019, and is expected to see continued growth. In 2019, our operating expenses totaled US$314.2 million, representing a 147% increase compared to 2018 due to costs from our microlending business and increased investment in marketing. As a percentage of revenue, operating expenses represented 94% in 2019, compared to 74% in 2018. However, over time, we expect our costs and operating expenses to decrease as a percentage of revenue as we improve our operating efficiency and as a result of economies of scale. Key examples would be personnel and hosting cost which decreased as a percentage of revenue in 2019 versus 2018 due to our larger scale.

 

Our Ability to Strengthen Our Technological Capabilities, Especially AI and Big Data

 

The internet business in general is undergoing constant technological evolution. In particular, AI and big data have been transforming, and will continue to transform, the internet industry, especially the content consumption market. We are dedicated to continually enhancing and applying our capabilities to new forms of content discovery and recommendation technologies and other applications. To maintain and enhance our innovation capabilities, we have increased our investments in product development and expect to continue to do so.

 

Our Ability to Engage and Retain Borrowers and Collect Repayments From Them
 

In 2019, 38.3% of our revenue was derived from our fintech business, which we generate by charging our borrowers origination fees and interest. Origination fees remain fixed regardless of any early repayments, while interest fees accrue only if and after a loan is not repaid by its due date. The amount of revenue we generate from these fees is dependent on the number of loans we disburse and the percentage of loans that are timely repaid. Our ability to retain and engage our existing borrowers and continue to expand our borrower base is essential to the growth of our fintech business. We bear the credit risk of loans disbursed to our borrowers, which we attempt to measure and mitigate using a variety of methods, including total outstanding loan balance, delinquency rates by aging, credit scorecards and by way of collection models. If we are unable to collect repayments of our loans in a timely manner, we may incur credit losses which would adversely affect our fintech business operations.

 

 

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

 

We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB. Preparing these financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, expenses, and related disclosures. We evaluate our estimates and assumptions on an ongoing basis. Our estimates are based on historical experience and various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. Our actual results may differ from these estimates.

 

The critical accounting estimates, assumptions, and judgments that we believe to have the most significant impact on our consolidated financial statements are described below.

 

Revenue Recognition

 

 

i.

Search revenue

 

Search revenue is generated when a user conducts a qualified search using a search partner (such as Google or Yandex) through the built-in combined address and search bar provided in our PC and mobile browsers, or when otherwise redirected to the search partner via browser functionality. Search revenue is recognized in the period the qualified search occurs based upon the contractually agreed revenue share amount.

 

 

ii.

Advertising revenue

 

Advertising includes revenues from all other user-generated activities excluding search revenues. Advertising revenues include revenues from industry-standard ad units, predefined partner bookmarks (“Speed Dials”) and subscriptions of various promoted services that are provided by us. Revenue is recognized when our advertising services are delivered based on the specific terms of the underlying contract, which are commonly based on revenue sharing, clicks, or subscription revenues collected by third parties on behalf of us.

 

The majority of advertising revenue is reported based on the amounts we are entitled to receive from advertising partners. In limited instances where we have developed or procured a service which we promote to the users, we consider ourselves the principal party to a transaction and not an agent of another entity. In such cases, we will recognize revenue on a gross basis. In our determination as to whether we are the principal, we consider our (i) responsibility to provide the service to the end-user, (ii) ability to determine pricing, (iii) exposure to risk. The associated costs for these transactions are included in the Statement of Operations within cost of revenue.

 

 

iii.

Origination fees and interest

 

We provide instant app-based microloans to customers in exchange for an origination fee that remains fixed regardless of any early repayment. The origination fee is compensation for the credit risk and time value of money. Additional fees in the form of interest accrues only if and after a loan is not repaid by its due date.

 

While loans to customers are classified as financial assets measured at fair value through profit or loss, we disaggregate changes in fair value into interest income and credit losses in the Statement of Operation. Interest income, classified as revenue, is recognized when the interest is accrued based on the effective interest rate – the rate that at inception exactly discounts the estimated contractual future cash receipts through the expected life of the loans to the disbursed amount.

 

 

iv.

Airtime and handsets revenue

 

The Retail segment includes sale of handsets, prepaid airtime and data to consumers and wholesalers. Revenue is recognized when the contracted good or service is transferred to the customer, after which we do not have any remaining obligations, except for a potential obligation to provide refunds customers in some arrangements if certain criteria are met. This right of refund creates variability in the transaction price. The amount of revenue recognized includes variable consideration to which we expect to be entitled. In 2019, customers’ right of refund did not materially impact the amount of revenue recognized. We update our estimates of refund liabilities (and the corresponding change in the transaction price) at the end of each reporting period. We have concluded that we are a principal for all our existing arrangements with customers classified as retail, based on the factors discussed above for Advertising revenue. Although other parties are involved in the supply of the contracted good or service to the customer, we control the contracted good or service before it is transferred.

 

 

v.

Technology licensing and other revenue

 

Technology licensing and other revenue include other revenues that are not generated by our user base, such as revenues from providing professional services, from device manufacturers and mobile communication operators. We generate such revenue from licensing of our proprietary compression technology and providing related maintenance, supporting and hosting services to third parties, as well as providing professional services, and enabling customized browser configurations to mobile operators. We also generate such revenue from providing development and managerial services to certain equity-accounted investees. Licensing agreements may in addition to licensing of technology, include related professional services, maintenance and support, as well as hosting services. Depending on the customization and integration level, the software licenses are either distinct or not distinct performance obligations from related professional services, and accordingly, the licensing revenue is recognized either separately when control is transferred to the customer or together with the implementation services. Sale of licenses that are part of a multi-element contract where the license is not distinct from maintenance, support or hosting services, are recognized over the contract period.

 

Maintenance, support and hosting revenues are generally recognized ratably over the term that these services are provided.

 

Revenue from distinct professional services are recognized over the development period in line with the degree of completion.

 

 

Financial assets

 

Our financial assets include loan to customers, trade receivables, preferred shares, holdings of publicly traded securities and other loans. 

 

Initial recognition and measurement

 

Financial assets are classified, at initial recognition, as subsequently measured at amortized cost, fair value through other comprehensive income, or fair value through profit or loss. We did not have financial assets measured at fair value through other comprehensive income.

 

The classification of financial assets at initial recognition depends on the financial asset’s contractual cash flow characteristics and our business model for managing them. Trade receivables that do not contain a significant financing component are initially measured at the transaction price determined in accordance with the accounting policies for revenue recognition (see below). All other financial assets are initially measured at their fair value plus, in the case of a financial asset not at fair value through profit or loss, transaction costs. Transaction costs of financial assets measured at fair value through profit or loss are expensed when incurred.

 

In order for a financial asset to be classified and measured at amortized cost or fair value through other comprehensive income it needs to give rise to cash flows that are solely payments of principal and interest ("SPPI") on the principal amount outstanding. This assessment is performed at an instrument level. Our business model for managing financial assets refers to how we manage our financial assets in order to generate cash flows. The business model determines whether cash flows will result from collecting contractual cash flows, selling the financial assets, or both. Financial assets are measured at amortized cost if the financial assets satisfy the SPPI criteria and are held within a business model whose objective is to collect the contractual cash flows. If the financial asset is held within a business model that is achieved by both collecting contractual cash flows and selling and which contain contractual terms that are SPPI, the assets are measured at fair value through other comprehensive income. Financial assets with cash flows that are not SPPI are classified and measured at fair value through profit or loss, irrespective of business model.

 

The microloans are held within a business model whose objective is to hold the assets and collect the contractual cash flows over the life of the instruments. There is no pattern of selling the loans, and the performance of the business is not measured at fair value for internal purposes. However, we have established a contractual obligation based on our business practices and external communication to limit the total amount of interest in the form of late fees to the amount of the principal and origination fee. This means that for overdue loans that are repaid after having reached such limit, the contractual cash flows are not payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding. This is due to the interest amounts not being consideration for the time value of money. Consequently, the microloans are measured at fair value through profit or loss. In the Statement of Financial Position, the microloans are presented as Loans to customers.

 

Subsequent measurement at amortized cost

 

Our financial assets at amortized cost includes trade receivables, loans to associates and joint ventures and other loans. These assets are subsequently measured using the effective interest (EIR) method and are subject to impairment. Gains and losses are recognized in profit or loss when the asset is derecognized, modified or impaired.

 

Subsequent measurement at fair value through profit or loss

 

Our financial assets subsequently measured at fair value through profit or loss include loans to customers, preferred shares in OPay and StarMaker and holdings of publicly traded securities. These assets are carried in the Statement of Financial Position at fair value with changes in fair value recognized in the Statement of Operations.

 

While loans to customers are measured at fair value through profit or loss, changes in fair value are disaggregated in the Statement of Operations into interest income (presented as revenue) and credit loss (other changes in fair value). The net of interest income and credit loss expense represents the change in fair value. Fair value is estimated by discounting projected future cash flows to their present value using the credit-adjusted effective interest rate, determined as at the date loans were granted. This method is deemed appropriate for estimating fair value due to the short duration of the loans and the amounts of origination fees and interest reflecting market rates at the point in time when the loans were granted. The credit-adjusted effective interest rate reflects the risk of defaulted payment. The total cash flows (both principal, origination fees and interest) expected to be collected are regularly reviewed. The impact of changes in expected cash flows is adjusted in the carrying amount of Loans to customers and is, together with the difference between the realized and expected cash flow of the period, recognized in the Statement of Operations as Revenue or Other changes in fair value of loans to customers. The underlying estimates for future cash flows, which form the basis for revenue recognition, depends on variables such as the ability to contact the debtor and reach an agreement, timing of cash flows, general economic environment, and statutory regulations. Events or changes in assumptions and management’s judgment will affect the recognition of revenue in the period.

 

The fair values of preferred shares in OPay and StarMaker as of December 31, 2019 were measured using methods and techniques that reflect the economic rights and benefits of the preferred shares. These rights and benefits include redemption rights and liquidation preferences. A combination of the following three valuation methods was used to estimate the fair value of the preferred shares: Probability weighted expected return model (“PWERM”); Option pricing model (“OPM”); and Current value method (“CV”). These models build on estimates, such as discount for lack of marketability and the fair value of equity in OPay and StarMaker. Moreover, the PWERM model is based on estimates for future scenarios and outcomes, including sale transactions, initial public offering, dissolution, and redemption. More details on the models and input are provided in Note 16 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

 

Share-based Payments

 

Our employees receive remuneration in the form of share-based payment transactions, whereby employees render services in consideration for equity instruments.

 

Estimating fair value for share-based awards requires an assessment of an appropriate valuation model, which depends on the terms and conditions of the grant. The estimate also requires an assessment of the most appropriate inputs to the valuation model including grant date fair value of the underlying equity, the expected life of the grant, volatility and dividend yield. Assumptions and models used for current grants are disclosed in Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

When applicable, employer social security costs are accrued over the vesting period of each award, based on the award’s intrinsic value of the underlying equity interest as of the reporting date.

 

Both periodic equity costs and social security cost accruals are adjusted for estimated forfeitures.

 

We are not required to cash settle any equity awards in any scenario. As a result, we consider all equity awards to be equity settled in the context of the consolidated financial statements.

 

Capitalized Development Costs and Customer Relationships

 

Certain costs of developing new features, together with significant and pervasive improvements of core functionality, are capitalized as development costs and amortized on a straight-line, three-year basis. Other engineering work related to research activities or ongoing product maintenance, such as “bug fixes,” updates needed to comply with changes in laws and regulations, or updates needed to keep pace with the latest web trends are expensed as ordinary compensation costs in the period they are incurred. Initial capitalization of expenditure is based on management’s judgment that the project meets all of the six criteria discussed in Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. Assessing if and when all of these criteria are met is based on judgment, which takes into account past experiences and expectations about the technical ability to complete the asset as intended

 

Acquired intangible assets related to customer relationships are recognized at cost less accumulated amortization and impairment losses, and are amortized over up to 15 years. We evaluate customer relationships for impairment when circumstances warrant.

 

 

Business Combinations and Goodwill

 

Business combinations, except those occurring under common control, are accounted for using the acquisition method. Acquired businesses are included in the consolidated financial statements from the date we obtain control. The cost of an acquisition is measured as the consideration transferred, which is measured at acquisition date fair value. Acquisition-related costs are expensed as incurred.

 

We initially measure goodwill at cost, being the excess of the aggregate of the consideration transferred and the amount recognized for non-controlling interests and any previous interest held, over the net identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed.

 

After initial recognition, goodwill is measured at cost less any accumulated impairment losses. Goodwill is from the acquisition date allocated to our Cash Generating Units, or CGUs, that are expected to benefit from the transaction. The goodwill recognized by us is allocated to the Consumer Business CGU.

 

The acquisition of a microfinance business primarily operating under the brand OKash, as discussed in Note 26 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report, occurred under common control because we concluded that both Opera Limited and the acquired business was controlled by our Chairman and CEO. The determination that Opera Limited was controlled by our Chairman and CEO was based on significant judgment. The Chairman and CEO’s ownership interest and voting rights were established by his control of Keeneyes Future Holding Inc and Kunlun Tech Limited, a subsidiary of Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd. Although the Chairman and CEO did not hold a majority of the shares and voting rights in the latter, we concluded that he had de facto control over that entity based on his practical ability to direct the relevant activities unilaterally. This was based on him being the largest holder of voting rights in Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd, effectively controlling 33.77% of the voting rights directly. The history of voting in general meetings for Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd demonstrated that our Chairman and CEO controlled significantly more than 50% of the shares registered to vote. The remaining shares in Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd were widely dispersed among a large number of other shareholders.

 

Business combinations under common control are accounted for using predecessor accounting. Under this method, assets and liabilities of the acquired entity are stated at predecessor carrying values; they were not measured at acquisition date fair values. No new goodwill is recognized. Any difference between the consideration given and the aggregate carrying value of the assets and liabilities of the acquired entity at the date of the transaction is included in equity in retained earnings. The acquired entity’s results, assets and liabilities are incorporated prospectively from the date on which the business combination between entities under common control occurred. See Note 26 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for a detailed discussion. 

 

Impairment of Goodwill and Intangibles with Indefinite Lives

 

We assess, at each reporting date, whether there is an indication that an asset may be impaired. If any indication exists, or when annual impairment testing for an asset is required, we estimate the asset’s recoverable amount. An asset’s recoverable amount is the higher of an asset’s or CGU’s fair value less costs of disposal and its value in use. The recoverable amount is determined for an individual asset, unless the asset does not generate cash inflows that are largely independent of those from other assets or groups of assets. When the carrying amount of an asset or CGU exceeds its recoverable amount, the asset is considered impaired and is written down to its recoverable amount. Goodwill and our brand of Opera (the trademark) were initially recognized in November 2016 through the acquisition of Opera Norway AS (formerly Opera Software AS) with subsidiaries, consisting of one segment – “the Consumer business”. Due to growth and expansion into new businesses in 2019, including microlending, management organized us into four operating segments effective from 2019: Browser and News, Fintech, Retail and Other. The goodwill and the trademark that previously was allocated to the Consumer business CGU was reallocated to the Browser and News CGU.

 

Goodwill is tested for impairment annually as of December 31, and when circumstances indicate that the carrying value may be impaired.

 

In assessing value in use, the estimated future cash flows are discounted to their present value using a pre-tax discount rate that reflects current market assessments of the time value of money and the risks specific to the asset or CGU.

We base our impairment calculation on detailed budgets and forecast calculations. These budgets and forecast calculations cover a period of one year. Because the length of the projection period for the cash flow forecast where a CGU has goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives is into perpetuity, we identify a “steady state” set of assumptions for the cash flows based an approach where we estimate cash flows for the following four years and then using the estimated cash flows in the final year of estimation as the basis for the terminal value. A long-term growth rate is calculated and applied to project future cash flows after the projected period. See Note 10 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for more information.

For assets, excluding goodwill, an assessment is made at each reporting date to determine whether there is an indication that previously recognized impairment losses no longer exist or have decreased. If such indication exists, we estimate the asset’s or CGU’s recoverable amount. A previously recognized impairment loss is reversed only if there has been a change in the assumptions used to determine the asset’s recoverable amount since the last impairment loss was recognized.

 

 

Income Taxes

 

Income tax consists of the sum of (i) current year income taxes payable plus (ii) the change in deferred taxes and liabilities, except if income taxes relate to items recognized in other comprehensive income, in which case it is recognized in other comprehensive income (loss). Income taxes include all domestic and foreign taxes, which are based on taxable profits, including withholding taxes. Current year income taxes payable is the expected tax payable on the taxable income for the year, using tax rates enacted or substantially enacted at the year end, and any adjustment to tax payable in respect of previous years.

 

We recognize income taxes in the income statement except to the extent that it relates to items recognized directly in equity or in comprehensive income. We include deductions for uncertain tax positions when it is probable that the tax position will be sustained in a tax review. We record provisions relating to uncertain or disputed tax positions at the amount expected to be paid. The provision is reversed if the disputed tax position is settled in favor of us and can no longer be appealed.

 

Deferred tax is provided using the liability method, providing for temporary differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities for financial reporting purposes and the amounts used for taxation purposes. The amount of deferred tax provided is based on the expected manner of realization or settlement of the carrying amount of assets and liabilities, using tax rates enacted or substantively enacted at the reporting date. We only recognize a deferred tax asset to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profits will allow the deferred tax asset to be realized. Recognized assets are reversed when realization is no longer probable.

 

See Note 25 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for a detailed discussion.

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

See Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report for recently adopted accounting pronouncements and recently issued accounting pronouncements not yet adopted as of the dates of the statement of financial position included in this report.

  

 

Description of Certain Statement of Operations Items

 

Revenue

 

Our revenues are derived from four business lines, namely (i) Browser and News, (ii) Fintech, (iii) Retail and (iv) Other. The table below sets forth the revenue, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue for each business line for the periods indicated.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Revenue:

                               

Browser and News

    138,444       80.4       154,968       46.3  

Fintech

    1,655       1.0       128,373       38.3  

Retail

    9,287       5.4       29,802       8.9  

Other

    22,890       13.3       21,712       6.5  

Total revenue

    172,276       100.0       334,855       100.0  

 

Browser and News revenue primarily consists of our search and advertising revenue.

 

Search revenue accounted for 46.6% and 25.7% of our total revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Through revenue sharing arrangements with our search partners including Google and Yandex, we generate search revenue when our users conduct searches initiated within the URL bar, default search page or search boxes embedded in our PC and mobile browsers, or otherwise redirected to our search partners via our browser functionality.

 

Advertising revenue accounted for 33.8% and 20.6% of our total revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively. We generate advertising revenue by referring traffic from our platform to e-commerce partners, online travel agencies and other partners, and by selling advertisements. The fee arrangements generally include revenue sharing, cost per click or subscription revenues collected by third parties on our behalf.

 

Fintech revenue is primarily generated from origination fees and interest fees of our microlending business, accounting for 1.0% and 38.3% of our total revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively. We started to generate origination fees and interest in late 2018 when we initiated our microlending business in Africa. We provide instant app-based microloans to our clients with a relatively short duration, up to 365 days, in exchange for a fixed origination fee regardless of any early repayment. The average duration for microloans provided in 2019 was 15 days. Additional fees in the form of interest, limited to the sum of the principal and origination fee, accrues only if and after a loan extended to our clients is not repaid by its due date.

 

Retail revenue accounted for 5.4% and 8.9% of total revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively. We started to generate retail revenue from the second half of 2018, when we began scaling sales, both retail and wholesale, of prepaid data, airtime, and mobile handsets.

 

Technology licensing and other revenue accounted for 13.3% and 6.5% of our total revenue in 2018 and 2019, respectively. We generate licensing and other revenue mainly from providing professional services, licensing of our proprietary compression technology and providing related maintenance, supporting and hosting services to third parties, as well as enabling customized browser configurations to mobile operators.

 

Geographically, our revenue in 2018 and 2019 was generated primarily from customers and monetization partners domiciled in India, Ireland, Kenya and Russia, with no other country exceeding 10% of our total revenue. The table below sets forth the revenue by customers and monetization partners’ domiciled country, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue for the periods indicated. The breakdown of revenue by country reflects the country of domicile for our direct source of revenues from our monetization partners, which is not necessarily an indication of where user activities occur because the end users are located globally.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

India

    1,549       0.9       98,504       29.4  

Ireland

    76,791       44.6       81,637       24.4  

Kenya

    3,426       2.0       35,086       10.5  

Russia

    17,356       10.1       17,265       5.2  

Other

    73,154       42.5       102,363       30.6  

Total revenue

    172,276       100.0       334,855       100.0  

 

 

Operating Expenses

 

We categorize our operating expenses into (i) cost of revenue, (ii) personnel expenses including share-based remuneration, (iii) marketing and distribution expenses, (iv) credit loss expenses, (v) other changes in fair value of loans to customers, (vi) depreciation and amortization and (vii) other expenses. The table below sets forth our operating expenses, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue, for the periods indicated.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019(1)

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Cost of revenue

    20,009       11.6       73,991       22.1  

Personnel expenses including share-based remuneration

    34,683       20.1       61,029       18.2  

Marketing and distribution expenses

    31,381       18.2       73,150       21.8  

Credit loss expense

    (678 )     (0.4 )     577       0.2  
Other changes in fair value of loans to customers     528       0.3       54,302       16.2  

Depreciation and amortization

    12,694       7.4       18,933       5.7  

Other expenses

    28,359       16.5       32,210       9.6  

Total operating expenses

    126,975       73.7       314,192       93.8  

 


 

(1)

Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted IFRS 16. The impact of adopting this standard is described in Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

Cost of Revenue

 

Our cost of revenue is primarily comprised of (i) revenue shares to content creators on Opera platforms and payments to publishers and monetization partners (including the costs of any platform or collection service used to facilitate subscription services where we are the principal in the transaction) related to our browser and news business line; (ii) transaction and communication platform expenses, as well as third party credit scoring, data and risk control costs related to our microlending business; (iii) inventory cost incurred for the purchase of data, airtime and handsets related to our retail business; and (iv) personnel expenses incurred in connection with the “technology licensing and other” revenue segment. We expect such individual components within this cost category to stay relatively stable as a percentage of our microlending, retail and other revenue streams, and increase relative to our advertising revenue.

 

Personnel Expenses including Share-based Remuneration

 

Our personnel expenses including share-based remuneration primarily consist of salaries and bonuses with applicable social security costs, external temporary hire cost and other personnel related expenses, as well as share-based remuneration, including related social security costs. Personnel expenses are net of capitalized development expenses. Capitalized development expenses in 2019 mainly relates to the development of Opera News. We expect our personnel expenses to increase in absolute amounts in the foreseeable future due to the anticipated growth of business and expansion of our global operations, as well as periodic salary adjustments. For details of our share incentive plan, see “ — Critical Accounting Policies — Share-based payment.” The table below sets forth the breakdown of our personnel expenses, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue for the periods indicated.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Personnel expenses excluding share-based remuneration

    29,836       17.3       55,101       16.5  

Share-based remuneration, including related social security costs

    4,846       2.8       5,928       1.8  

Total

    34,683       20.1       61,029       18.2  

 

 

Credit Loss Expenses

 

Our credit loss expense is mainly related to provisions for expected credit losses on trade receivables and consist of specific provisions where risk of credit loss have been determined by management as well as general provisions determined based on the  aging of the trade receivables. Changes in credit loss expense is affected by our ability to collect our trade receivables, the credit risk of the markets we operate in as well as general market conditions affecting our trade partners.

 

Other changes in fair value of loans to customers

 

While loans to customers are accounted for at fair value through profit or loss, changes in fair value are disaggregated into interest revenue and other changes in fair value of loans to customers. Other changes in fair value are primarily driven by realized and expected cash shortfalls, i.e. credit losses. Changes in fair value of loans to customers are estimated on a per-loan, per-day basis, informed by the observed probability of collecting a loan at different stages of maturity, adjusting for factors such as first-time versus returning borrower, country, loan duration and loan amount, and managerial assessments of other factors influencing probability of repayment. Changes in fair value of loans to customers as a percentage of loan disbursements, or percentage of associated revenue, is affected by our ability to appropriately identify borrowers most likely to repay their loans, the quality of our collection operations, the amount of relevant market and user data obtainable, how much history we have in a given market, as well as general market conditions affecting our borrowers.

 

Marketing and Distribution Expenses

 

Marketing and distribution expenses primarily consist of performance based campaigns associated with our browser and news business and microlending business. We expect our marketing and distribution expenses to decrease as a percent of total revenue over the years to come, though there may be short-term fluctuations including in the near future due to the COVID-19 situation.

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

Depreciation cost largely relates to purchased equipment and servers as well as leasehold improvements. Amortization cost largely relates to intangible assets such as technology and customer relationships as well as capitalized development. Depreciation and amortization is driven by the amounts of assets we purchase and/or capitalize and the expected lifetime of those assets.

 

Other Expenses

 

Our other expenses primarily consist of hosting expenses; professional advisory service fees; software license fees, rent and other office expenses and travel expenses. We expect our other expenses to increase in absolute amounts in the foreseeable future due to the anticipated growth of our business as well as accounting, insurance, investor relations and other public company costs. The table below sets forth the breakdown of our other expenses, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue for the periods indicated.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019(1)

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Hosting

    10,146       5.9       6,941       2.1  

Audit, legal and other advisory services

    8,306       4.8       8,533       2.5  

Software license fees

    1,799       1.0       2,566       0.8  

Rent and other office expenses

    4,573       2.7       5,379       1.6  

Travel

    2,057       1.2       3,990       1.2  

Other

    1,477       0.9       4,801       1.4  

Total other expenses

    28,359       16.5       32,210       9.6  

 


 

(1)

Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted IFRS 16. The impact of adopting this standard is described in Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

Contribution Margin by Segment

 

Our operating segments are based on our main categories of products and services, namely Browser and News, Fintech, Retail and Other. The following table presents contribution for these segments, which represents revenue from the segment, less the sum of (i) cost of revenue, (ii) marketing and distribution expense and (iii) credit loss expense attributed to that segment, as well as each item expressed as a percentage of the segment revenue during the periods indicated.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

2019

 
   

US$

   

%

   

US$

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Browser and News

                               

Revenue

    138,444       100.0       154,968       100.0  

Cost of revenue

    3,637       2.6       2,642       1.7  

Marketing and distribution expenses

    31,336       22.6       64,685       41.7  

Credit loss expense

    (678 )     (0.5 )     577       0.4  

Contribution

    104,149       75.2       87,064       56.2  

 

 

Browser and News contributed US$87.1 million in 2019, corresponding to 56.2% of segment revenue and comparing to US$104.1 million or 75.2% of segment revenue in 2018. While the segment revenue increased by US$16.5 million, this was offset by the effect of our strategic investments in additional marketing and distribution (increasing by US$33.4 million).

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

2019

 
   

US$

   

%

   

US$

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Fintech

                               

Revenue

    1,655       100.0       128,373       100.0  

Cost of revenue

    428       25.9       29,759       23.2  

Marketing and distribution expenses

    45       2.7       8,464       6.6  

Credit loss expense (1)

    528       31.9       54,302       42.3  

Contribution

    654       39.5       35,848       27.9  

 

(1) Credit loss expense is consistent with Other changes in fair value of loans to customers in the Statement of Operations. 

 

Fintech contributed US$35.8 million in 2019, or 27.9% of segment revenue and comparing to US$0.7 million or 39.5% of segment revenue in 2018. The segment revenue increased by US$126.7 million, while credit loss expense, cost of revenue and marketing and distribution expenses increased with a total of US$91.5 million. This significant growth was primarily driven by the launch and subsequent scaling of our microlending offerings in Kenya in the fourth quarter of 2018 and India in the second quarter of 2019.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

2019

 
   

US$

   

%

   

US$

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Retail

                               

Revenue

    9,287       100.0       29,802       100.0  

Cost of revenue

    9,096       97.9       29,836       100.1  

Marketing and distribution expenses

    -       -       -       -  

Credit loss expense

    -       -       -       -  

Contribution

    191       2.1       (34 )     (0.1 )

 

 

Retail contributed a loss of US$34 thousands in 2019, and comparing to US$0.2 million or 2.1% of segment revenue in 2018. The segment revenue increased by US$20.5 million, while cost of revenue increased with a total of US$20.7 million. The increase was primarily due to the full year effect of this revenue category which was introduced in the third quarter of 2018, as well as continued scaling of our handset and airtime resale activity in Asia and launch of operations in Africa.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

2019

 
   

US$

   

%

   

US$

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Other

                               

Revenue

    22,890       100.0       21,712       100.0  

Cost of revenue

    6,848       29.9       11,754       54.1  

Marketing and distribution expenses

    -       -       -       -  

Credit loss expense

    -       -       -       -  

Contribution

    16,042       70.1       9,958       45.9  

 

The Other segment, which mainly includes licensing of our proprietary technology and professional services, contributed US$10.0 million in 2019, or 45.9% of segment revenue, comparing to US$16.0 million or 70.1% of segment revenue in 2018. The decrease was attributable to a general decline in our licensing and operator revenues in line with our strategic decision to center our focus on more scalable sources of revenue, partially offset by the growth in professional services.

 

Taxation

 

Norway

 

As most of our activities are consolidated in Norway, the starting point of reconciliation of effective tax rate is the applicable tax rate in Norway, which was 23.0% and 22.0% in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

 

Ireland

 

Opera Software Ireland Limited, our subsidiary incorporated and tax resident in Ireland, is subject to Irish corporation tax on any worldwide profits or chargeable capital gains (subject to any available reliefs). The standard rate of corporation tax on Irish trading profits is 12.5%. To benefit from this rate, companies must derive income from a trade that is actively carried on in Ireland. A rate of 25% applies to non-trading (for example, rental income and royalty income) and foreign-source income. An Irish resident company will, subject to any exemptions that are available, pay tax on any gains it realizes on the disposal of its capital assets at an effective rate of 33%.

 

Cayman Islands

 

The Cayman Islands currently levies no taxes on individuals or corporations based upon profits, income, gains or appreciation and there is no taxation in the nature of inheritance tax or estate duty.

 

There are no other taxes likely to be material to us levied by the government of the Cayman Islands except for stamp duties which may be applicable on instruments executed in, or after execution brought within the jurisdiction of, the Cayman Islands. In addition, the Cayman Islands does not impose withholding tax on dividend payments. The Cayman Islands is not party to any double tax treaties that are applicable to any payments made to or by our company. There are no exchange control regulations or currency restrictions in the Cayman Islands.

 

 

Hong Kong

 

Our subsidiaries incorporated in Hong Kong, are subject to 16.5% Hong Kong profit tax on their taxable income generated from operations in Hong Kong. Under Hong Kong tax laws, we are exempted from the Hong Kong income tax on our foreign-derived income. In addition, payments of dividends from our Hong Kong subsidiaries to us are not subject to any Hong Kong withholding tax.

 

Results of Operations

 

The following table sets forth a summary of our consolidated statements of operations for the periods indicated, in absolute amounts and as percentages of total revenue during the period. This information should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. The operating results in any period are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future period.

 

   

For the year ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

%

   

2019(1)

   

%

 
   

(US$ in thousands, except for percentages)

 

 

                               

Revenue

    172,276       100.0       334,855       100.0  

Operating expenses:

                               

Cost of revenue

    (20,009 )     (11.6 )     (73,991 )     (22.1 )

Personnel expenses including share-based remuneration

    (34,683 )     (20.1 )     (61,029 )     (18.2 )

Marketing and distribution expense

    (31,381 )     (18.3 )     (73,150 )     (21.9 )

Credit loss expense

    678       0.4       (577 )     (0.2 )
Other changes in fair value of loans to customers     (528)       (0.3 )     (54,302 )     (16.2 )

Depreciation and amortization

    (12,694 )     (7.4 )     (18,933 )     (5.7 )

Other expenses

    (28,359 )     (16.5 )     (32,210 )     (9.6 )

Restructuring costs

    -       -       -       -  

Total operating expenses

    (126,975 )     (73.7 )     314,192       (93.8 )

Operating profit

    45,301       26.3       20,662       6.2  

Share of net income (loss) of associates and joint ventures

    (3,248 )     (1.9 )     (3,818)       (1.1)  
Change in fair value of preferred shares in associates     -       -       37,900       11.3  

Net finance income (expense):

                               

Finance income

    1,637       1.0       10,530       3.1  

Finance expense

    (1,695 )     (1.0 )     (1,505 )     (0.4 )

Net foreign exchange gain (loss)

    (354 )     (0.2 )     (269 )     (0.1 )

Net finance income (expense)

    (412 )     (0.2 )     8,756       2.6  

Net income before income taxes

    41,641       24.2       63,500       19  

Income tax expense

    (6,481 )     (3.8 )     (5,602 )     (1.7 )

Net income

    35,160       20.4       57,899       17.3  

 


 

(1)

Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted IFRS 16. The impact of adopting this standard is described in Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

Year Ended December 31, 2019 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2018

 

Revenue

 

We had revenue of US$334.8 million in 2019, compared to US$172.3 million in 2018, marking an increase of 94.4%. This increase was driven primarily by (i) the increase in revenue from origination fees and interest in mircrolending business, (ii) search and advertising revenue, due to continuing growth of our existing PC and mobile smartphone user bases and improved monetization of our new and existing partners, and (iii) retail revenue that we started to generate in the second half of 2018 and which scaled during 2019.

 

 

Search Revenue. Our search revenue increased to US$86.2 million in 2019 from US$80.2 million in 2018, representing an increase of 7.5%. The increase was primarily due to the growth of our smartphone and PC user base.

 

 

 

Advertising Revenue. Our advertising revenue increased to US$68.8 million in 2019 from US$59.9 million in 2018, representing an increase of 14.9%. This growth was fueled by growth in our Opera News service both in our mobile browsers and stand-alone app, growth in PC user base, as well as improved monetization from our existing and new monetization partners both in mobile and PC products. The growth was partially offset by using our advertising inventory to promote our own apps.

     
 

Fintech Revenue. Our fintech revenue increased to US$128.4 million in 2019 from US$1.7 million in 2018. This significant growth was primarily driven by the launch and subsequent scaling of our microlending offerings in Kenya in the fourth quarter of 2018 and India in the second quarter of 2019.

     
 

Retail Revenue. Our retail revenue increased to US$29.8 million in 2019 from US$9.3 million in 2018, representing an increase of 220.4%. The increase was primarily due to the full year effect of this revenue category which was introduced in the third quarter of 2018, as well as continued scaling of our handset and airtime resale activity in Asia and launch of operations in Africa.

     
 

Technology Licensing and Other Revenue. Our technology licensing and other revenue decreased to US$21.7 million in 2019 from US$22.9 million in 2018, representing a decrease of 5.2%. The decrease was attributable to a general decline in our licensing and operator revenues in line with our strategic decision to center our focus on more scalable sources of revenue, partially offset by the growth in professional services.

 

Operating expenses

 

We had total operating expenses of US$314.2 million in 2019, compared to US$127.0 million in 2018. Our total operating expenses as a percentage of total revenue increased to 93.8% in 2019 from 73.7% in 2018.

  

Cost of revenue

 

Our cost of revenue increased to US$74.0 million in 2019 from US$20.0 million in 2018, primarily due to increases in (i) cost incurred in microlending business, from US$0.4 million in 2018 to US$29.8 million in 2019, which is in line with our growing scale of business operation in 2019, (ii) retail business cost from US$9.1 million in 2018 to US$29.8 million in 2019, resulting from increase sale of prepaid airtime and handsets, and (iii) cost in relation to technology licensing and other business from US$6.8 million in 2018 to US$11.8 million in 2019, primarily attributable to cost of professional services provided to OPay, and is partially offset by a slight decrease in costs related to search and advertising from US$3.6 million in 2018 to US$2.6 million in 2019.

 

Personnel expenses including share-based remuneration

 

Our personnel expenses including share-based remuneration increased to US$61.0 million in 2019 from US$34.7 million in 2018, representing an increase of 76.0%. The increase was driven mainly by the growth in our fintech business as well as by other new initiatives including OList, Opera Ads and Opera News. Cash-based compensation expenses increased by 84.7% from US$29.8 million in 2018 to US$55.1 million in 2019, which is primarily attributable to an increase in the number of full time employees from 464 as of December 31, 2018 to 819 as of December 31, 2019, as well as an increase in the number of our outsourced staff in call centers and similar in-market roles from almost zero as of December 31, 2018 to close to 6,000 as of December 31, 2019. Share-based remuneration expense increased by 22.3% from US$4.8 million in 2018 to US$5.9 million in 2019.

 

Marketing and distribution expenses

 

Our marketing and distribution expenses increased to US$73.2 million in 2019 from US$31.4 million in 2018, representing a 133.1% increase. This was primarily due to our strategic decision to invest more resources in accelerating our growth in Opera News, which was scaling rapidly in Africa and expanding to additional geographies, as well as targeted marketing of browser offerings during 2019.

 

Credit loss expense

 

Our credit loss expense was US$0.6 million in 2019. Compared to a gain of US$0.7 million related to reversal of bad debt provisions in prior periods within the browser and news segment in 2018.

 

Other changes in fair value of loans to customers

 

In our Fintech segment, Other changes in fair value of loans to customers is consistent with Credit loss expense in the Browser and News segment. In 2019 our changes in fair value of loans to customers amounted to US$54.3 million compared to US$0.5 million in 2018. The increase was mainly driven by the scaled microlending operations in India and Kenya.

 

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

We had depreciation and amortization of US$18.9 million in 2019 compared to US$12.7 million in 2018, representing an increase of 49.2%. The increase is largely the result of the adoption of IFRS 16 on January 1, 2019.

 

Other expenses

 

Our other expenses increased to US$32.2 million in 2019 from US$28.4 million in 2018, representing an increase of 14.2%. Within the category, audit, legal and other advisory services increased from US$8.3 million in 2018 to US$8.5 million in 2019. Our travel expenses also increased from US$2.1 million in 2018 to US$4.0 million in 2019, rent and other office expenses grew from US$4.6 million in 2018 to US$5.4 million in 2019 and lastly software license fees increased from US$1.8 million in 2018 to US$2.6 million in 2019, all due to the scale of operations. This increase was partly offset by a decrease in hosting expenses from US$10.2 million in 2018 to US$6.9 million in 2019, primarily as a result of the adoption of IFRS 16 on January 1, 2019.

 

Operating profit

 

As a result of the foregoing, we recorded an operating profit of US$20.6 million in 2019, representing an operating margin of 6.2%, compared to an operating profit of US$45.3 million in 2018 and an operating margin of 26.3%.

 

Share of net loss from associates and joint ventures

 

Our share of loss from associates and joint ventures was US$3.8 million in 2019 compared to a share of net loss of US$3.2 million in 2018. See Note 27 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for more details on the financial performance of each investee.

 

Change in fair value of preferred shares in associates

 

Our gain in fair value of preferred shares in 2019 was