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Durov Steps Down as CEO of VKontakte

Published: April 1, 2014 (Issue # 1803)



  • Durov cited last year's shake-up in the composition of the company's stakeholders as significantly curbing his decision-making ability.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

  • Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov posted this picture along with a note announcing that he is leaving his post.
    Photo: Pavel Durov / Vkontakte

The founder of Russia's largest social network VKontakte, Pavel Durov, stepped down as CEO of the company after seven years in the post. He announced this on his Vkontakte page on April 1.

“The CEO has significantly less freedom in managing the company after the changes occurred in the Vkontakte shareholders' structure in April 2013,” Durov said. He added that he would continue cooperating with the company as a founder but was not interested in any formal position.

"It has become increasingly complicated to stick to the principles we once founded our social site upon," Durov said in his farewell letter, which included a picture of jumping dolphins with the text: "So long and thanks for all the fish."

A source close to the company confirmed Durov's resignation to Kommersant. In a tweet, the spokesperson for Vkontakte, Grigory Lobushkin, declined to provide any comment on Durov's statements. But an unnamed source close to the company said the vice president of the company and former president of Kommersant editorial house Dmitry Sergeyev will step in as provisional head of the company, RBC reported.

As recently as February, Lobushkin had denied reports Durov was planning to resign and refused to comment about possible successors.

VKontakte, a site similar to Facebook that draws most of its users from the former Soviet Union, has gone through several changes since investment fund United Capital Partners owned by businessman Ilya Sherbovich bought out two of the site's co-founders in April 2013, becoming its biggest shareholder with a 48 percent stake.

Since then Sherbovich publicly disapproved Durov's actions, accusing him among other things of using Vkontakte resources to promote the instant messenger Telegram, which, according to Sherbovich, was a rival.

Shortly after that Durov's brother stepped down as technical director of the firm.

In December 2013, Durov sold his 12 percent stake to MegaFon's CEO Ivan Tavrin, a close affiliate of billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who now owns the controlling share in Vkontakte after his Mail.ru group bought Tavrin's stake earlier this month.

After that, more changes took place in the management of the company. Durov's close allies, brothers Ilya and Igor Perekopsky, who held the positions of deputy CEO and financial director, left the company.

Pavel Durov, who created VKontakte in 2006 and has been founder and CEO of the company ever since, is branded by industry people as the Russian Zuckerberg. In 2013 the biggest Russian social network boasted that 14 million new users had joined it.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 21


Learn more about Russian labor laws at Labor Law Seminar 2014 at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel this morning at 166 Kanala Griboyedova. Sponsored by Baker and McKenzie and the Pepeliaev Group, the event begins at 9 a.m. and will discuss amendments to existing laws, employment terms, risks of termination and other pressing matters.


Educate yourself about educational careers at Education and Career XXI — November 2014, a two-day fair hosted at Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island that welcomes students and educators alike to develop relationships between scholarly institutions and learn more about the educational market in Russia and abroad.



Saturday, Nov. 22


Russian Premier League-leaders Zenit St. Petersburg return from the international break to take on Kuban Krasnodar at Petrovsky Stadium this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the game can still be purchased on the club’s website, at the Petrovsky Stadium box office or in any of the club’s merchandise stores.



Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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