Vivaldi CEO Accuses Google Of Monopolistic Behavior

September 5, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Vivaldi co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner accused Google of monopolistic behavior, stating that the company is abusing its dominant position in the Internet search and digital advertising businesses in an effort to stifle its competitors and penetrate other markets by utilizing unfair measures. In a blog post published on Monday, Mr. von Tetzchner referred to the Alphabet-owned company as a “bully” and stated that the firm wasn’t able to resist the lure of taking advantage of its success in ways that hurt the overall competitiveness of the market, calling for it “to return to not being evil,” which is a reference to Google’s former motto which can only be found in its Code of Conduct following its late 2015 restructuring.

Vivaldi runs a self-titled open source Internet browser based on Google’s Chromium project and Mr. von Tetzchner has a history of collaborating with the Mountain View, California-based company during his time at Opera Software, another browser company he co-founded. In his Monday blog post, he recalls how Opera was the first browser to integrate Google Search into its interface, stating that his initial impression of the firm and its two co-founders was a largely positive one, with the two partnering in the late ’90s when Google was just “up-and-coming geeky company.” Today, the tech giant is preventing Opera and Vivaldi users from accessing the Google Docs service as part of a move which Mr. von Tetzchner deems anti-competitive, noting how the firm’s users are forced to either avoid Google Docs entirely or mask themselves as accessing the service from another browser like Chrome or Firefox. Furthermore, Vivaldi’s AdWords campaigns were suspended on two occasions without prior warning, with the firm’s CEO claiming that Google opted for this move to punish him from publicly criticizing its data gathering practices which he previously said were “democracy-threatening” and have the potential for turning into a system for “tailored propaganda.”

It took Vivaldi three months to be reinstated in AdWords last time it was banned, with the firm using this service to advertise its Chrome alternative and Mr. von Tetzchner claiming how the process involved complying with some loose and soft guidelines which Google itself wasn’t following at times, suggesting that the entire affair was simply Google’s way of bullying a smaller competitor. Vivaldi CEO concluded his thoughts by saying how his latest experiences with Google are in line with the recent antitrust problems the company had in Europe which led to a historic anti-competitive fine and a set of sanctions which the firm has yet to comply with.