For a brief period, Opera News made a brief incursion to my Twitter timeline as it signed up several micro-influencers as creators. It was a bit of a show, with pictures of contracts being signed and talk about handsome pay for these creators. 

It seemed like an expensive strategy for the long-term so it was no surprise when the company dropped those influencers to focus on their core business model. While Opera is popular for its web browser, it has done some interesting work in creating its own platform, Opera News Hub.

The News Hub is an app available on Android and iOS has been downloaded over 100 million times on Android alone. While media is typically a difficult business, having your own platform gives you an edge especially in terms of your ability to generate revenue.

And that is exactly what is on display in Opera’s unaudited report for the first quarter of 2021, with a strong performance that has seen the company revise all its targets for the year upward. 

Opera adds 16 million users in Q1 results 

There are a lot of positive notes for Opera in its unaudited report for the first quarter of 2021. Its monthly active user base increased by 16 million year-over-year in the first quarter; driven by 12% and 14% year-over-year growth in core regions Africa and Europe, respectively.

While it is popular amongst mobile users, it is also seeing growth in its number of PC users as well, with 79 million average monthly PC users in the first quarter, up 17% year-over-year. Its gaming browser, which launched last year, now has nearly 9 million users, up 190% year-over-year in March.

These numbers allowed Opera to increase its ad revenue as well as revenue from search advertising. Its revenue from news was particularly impressive, as it reported an increase of 260% year-over-year and 30% sequentially versus the fourth quarter.

But it’s difficult to put this in perspective because the company did not disclose what percentage of the $51 million it made in Q1 specifically came from news revenue. What it did say instead is that now Opera has a revenue target of $55-$57 million for Q2 

Asides from its browser and news business, Opera has other investments, one of which reported a profit for the quarter.

Nanobank, OPay and Starmaker 

After exiting its micro-lending business in Nigeria last year, Opera entered into a partnership (42% ownership) with Mobimagic to form Nanobank, another lending service. The service reported 50 million users at launch and for Q1, disbursed $235 million in total value. 

On the back of that, Nanobank, which is run independently, reported post-tax profits of $4.3 million. 

Opera also owns 13.1% of OPay and often reports OPay’s transaction numbers. This quarter, Opera’s only mention of the company was to say that, “OPay’s total payment volume continues to grow and has increased from December 2020 levels of $2 billion.”

It also gave a line to StarMaker, a karaoke app which it owns 19.35% stake in, stating that it had “an annual revenue run rate of almost $180 million in the first quarter, up 3.5 times compared to the year-ago period.”

Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega Author

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