United Capital Partners Invests In VKontakte

VKontakte is a Russian replica of social network Facebook.  The website was started by Pavel Durov in 2006.  VKontakte has 43 million users and Durov has run into some issues, according to Bloomberg.

Durov had to fight music labels that claimed VKontakte breached copyright laws.  The Federal Security Service wanted Durov to shut down pages by anti-Putin groups last year.  Durov decided to tweet a photo of a German shepherd with its tongue sticking out in response:

<blockquote><p>??????????? ????? ??????????? ?? ?????? ? ?????????? ????? <a href=”http://t.co/uw5KBAU6″ title=”http://twitpic.com/7q9u8o”>twitpic.com/7q9u8o</a> – <a href=”http://t.co/zEowGWrd” title=”http://twitpic.com/7q9vtx”>twitpic.com/7q9vtx</a></p>&mdash; Pavel Durov (@durov) <a href=”https://twitter.com/durov/status/144775176742113281″>December 8, 2011</a></blockquote>

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Alisher Usmanov’s Mail.ru controls rival social networks Odnoklassniki and My World.  Mail.ru also owns 40% of VKontakte even tried to gain control of the company.  Durov tweeted his opposition to Mail.ru gaining ownership of the company.

Durov founded the website with two rich friends.  The two friends have a combined 48% stake.  The two friends backed Durov when refusing to sell shares to Usmanov.  However the friends have now sold their shares to United Capital Partners, a fund known for conducting deals on behalf of energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft.

Durov has a 12% stake.  Mail.ru (40% ownership) and United Capital Partners (48%) need Durov’s backing to control VKontakte completely.  The situation may be unresolved for a while because prosecutors believe Durov was involved in an incident that took place on April 5th in St. Petersburg.  The incident involve a policeman being struck by a Mercedes-Benz.  Durov supposedly fled the country.

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