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Telegram to you: a brief summary of events around Telegram in January

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

In the first week of January, while the whole world was quietly resting on the Christmas holidays, the audience of the Telegram messenger reached 500 million active monthly users, as Pavel Durov reported on his channel. The app experienced strong growth of 1.5 million monthly users last year, but such a surge was impressive even for the founder.

Users come from all over the world: 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America, 8% from the Middle East. Durov himself associates the popularity of his project with the fact that Telegram focuses on privacy and protection of personal data. The desire for privacy is defeating the monopoly of tech giants. In the latter case, he is clearly referring to Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger, which recently updated its user agreement, practically admitting the transfer of personal data to the parent corporation. Earlier, commenting on this event, Durov had already called Telegram a threat and a problem for Facebook and noted the mass movement of WhatsApp users to his messenger.

Generally, January was full of events for the platform.

So to say, recent events in the United States, the blocking of some alternative messengers in app stores, Donald Trump’s supporters on Twitter and also other things, led to the fact that Telegram, for a short time, came to the second place in the amount of downloads in the country. This could not go unnoticed, so just a few days ago the American non-profit organization Coalition for a Safer Web sued Telegram to be removed from the App Store: according to their statement, the application’s management does nothing with the spreading extremist content.

Last night Pavel Durov responded to allegations of inaction, saying that hundreds of public calls to violence were blocked last week, which could potentially gain widespread coverage. Although the American audience is only 2% of the total number of Telegram users, deleting an application from the App Store can become a serious problem for the messenger. Recall that since 2018, attempts have already been made on the territory of the Russian Federation to block Telegram.

Another event is more like a broken phone, but interesting from the point of view of the tech startup market. The sharp and multiple growth of the user audience brought Telegram to the upper echelon of independent projects. And it began to sound “IPO” around it: when, if not now? But not everything is so simple.

On January 13, The Information published an exclusive material, from which it became known about Pavel Durov’s negotiations with investors and about the possible process of raising investments for the project, the amount of which could reach $1 billion. At the same time, according to sources, Telegram does not want to take on potential exit of investors from the project: it is not worth talking about a sale, merger or going public yet.

The material spread over the Internet and raised the question of Telegram funding in general. Pavel Durov quickly came back with an answer: he partially denied information about meetings with investors, but did not refuse the opportunity to get a loan. According to him, this is a way for the project to remain independent and maintain its inner values.

Experts disagree on the evaluation of Telegram: at the moment the application is not making a profit (the first steps towards “alternative” monetization were announced only in December 2020), does not sell advertising and provides all current services for free. According to available information, Pavel Durov continues to finance the project alone. At the same time, analysts from The Information consider its entry to the stock exchange inevitable.

19 Jan 2021


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