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End of VKontakte As We Know It?
January 27, 2014 16:14


Photo Credit: http://vk.com
VKontakte cofounder Pavel Durov sold off his stake in Russia’s largest social network in a move that signals his imminent resignation as CEO.
 
On his page on VKontakte, Durov, 29, wrote that this was a logical step in line with his recent decisions.
 
“Over the past several years I’ve been getting rid of my belongings, from furniture and personal items to real estate and businesses,” his post ran.
 
According to Durov, he sold his 12 percent stake to “his friend Ivan Tavrin”.
 
What is less known to the outside observers is that Tavrin is CEO of MegaFon, which belongs to Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s richest billionaire, with a net worth of $17.6 billion, according to Forbes.ru.
 
The sale appears to mark an end to the shareholders’ squabbles, giving Usmanov, who already owned 39.9 percent, a clear advantage over United Capital Partners (UCP), an investment vehicle controlled by Ilya Shcherbovich.
 
As Russia-IC reported, UCP surprised investors when it acquired 48 percent of the social network from the other co-founders of VKontakte, Lev Leviev and Vyacheslav Mirilashvili, in April 2013.
 
Following the deal, Ilya Shcherbovich issued a series of critical statements over the way the ‘Russian Facebook’ had been run, blaming Durov.
 
Since then, rumours have ripened over Durov’s departure as CEO.
 
Some members of his original team left, to be replaced by Usmanov’s protégés.
 
After one of such reports, VKontakte’s press secretary came out with a statement that denied the speculations.
 
Now that he sold his stake the Russian segment of the Internet has been abuzz with possible scenarios.
 
Many believe the young millionaire is most likely to leave his brainchild to work at Telegram, a new startup he founded that seeks to ensure privacy and security of online communications.
 
With his resignation, the future of the most popular social network in Russia is up in the air.
 

Currently worth between $2.5 and $4 billion, the company’s market value could take a serious plunge, at least for a while, and it doesn’t appear to be what the shareholders initially sought.  




Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Pavel Durov VKontakte Russian social networks   

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