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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

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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