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Vkontakte Turns 8
October 12, 2014 13:02

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As VKontakte is marking its 8-year anniversary and leadership in the Russian social media ecosystem, Russia-IC looks at the changes the company has been through.
What emerged as a successful startup was in full control by its cofounder Pavel Durov until the arrival of a new shareholder, United Capital Partners (UCP).
Their intervention led to bickering over management and vision, bad PR for the company and, eventually, the dismissal of its CEO.
In mid-spring, Durov left his brainchild, blaming the owners for lacking the courage to break the news to him directly, saying he learned about his resignation from media reports.
Rumours over Durov’s departure ripened after he sold his 12 percent stake to “his friend Ivan Tavrin”. What is less known to 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
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.
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 were abundant over Durov’s departure as CEO. Some members of his original team left, to be replaced by Usmanov’s protégés. 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.

In September 2014, bought UCP’s stake, gaining full control over VKontakte, currently worth between $2.5 and $4 billion. 


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Pavel Durov VKontakte Russian social media   

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