After all, who owns Telegram? Surely you’ve heard of messenger, which competes directly with WhatsApp, but few know the mind behind the platform. With a fortune of US$ 15 billion, the person responsible for the feat is Pavel Durov, a programmer who stamped his presence on Forbes’ 2021 billionaires list.
The tycoon was born on the 10th of October 1984 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Interestingly, he is compared to Mark Zuckerberg. The reason is simple: the two used the same recipe to get rich. Both were college students when they created a successful social network.
The year was 2006 when Pavel Durov, just 22 years old, founded the largest social network based in Europe, VKontakte (or just VK). At the time, he was just a student at St. Petersburg State University. In a short time, the platform rocked, but the dream was short-lived.
VK was gaining more and more visibility, and problems began to arise four years after its launch. In 2010, the businessman was reportedly pressured by the Russian government to hand over data from Ukrainians who opposed the government of Viktor Yanukovytch, Russia’s partner.
At the time, Durov did not want to cooperate, and, from that moment on, he was in the government’s crosshairs. To avoid retaliation, the Russian left their homeland and adopted a nomadic lifestyle, full of world travel. Eventually, the businessman moved to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Five years after the crash, 12% of the company was sold for around $300 million. Despite losing control of the platform, the programmer had already embarked on his next creation – which, as we already know, would become WhatsApp’s biggest competitor.
Later, in an interview with TechCrunch in 2015, Pavel Durov stated that the sale of the company was, in the end, the right decision. According to him, the market “broke” right after the negotiation; as a result, VK was worth 3 to 4 times less. During the chat, he even revealed that he could enter and leave Russia freely, and apparently, “no one seems to care about that.”
How Telegram came to be
In conversation with the New York Times, Durov recalls that the idea of creating a messenger was born in late 2011 when Russian police special forces (OMON) members threatened to invade his apartment in St. Petersburg.
In the end, the invasion did not take place; but the event already had consequences. At that moment, the programmer’s biggest concern was losing contact with his older brother, Nikolai Durov, if the government apprehended him. According to him, this was the seed that led to the creation of Telegram.
The app was officially launched two years later, in August 2013, with Nikolai as co-founder. And as a main asset, Telegram raised the flag of privacy. The founder, by the way, has already admitted that this creates problems. The messenger has been — and still is — the scene of many criminal activities, such as selling illegal weapons and illicit drugs. While he doesn’t support these practices, Durov says the messenger’s top priority is privacy.
Behind the spotlight
Pavel Durov doesn’t usually use Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. As far as is known, the tycoon has no children or marriages. The businessman maintains a discreet posture and, in the few photos he shares does not reveal much about his life. With a healthy lifestyle, the businessman eventually shows off his buff physique.
While he keeps his personal life out of the spotlight, some details are intriguing. On his social media, there is no single photo where he is not wearing black clothes. The reason for the preference is even more curious.
As determined by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, the look was inspired by Neo, the main character in The Matrix, who wore only black suits.