The Incredible Life of Pavel Durov – Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg

Who is Pavel Durov?

Pavel Durov is known as Mark Zuckerberg of Russia. Mark Zuckerberg at this time is the owner of many social media platforms, similarly, Pavel Durov gave the world one of the biggest messenger app keeping in mind the privacy of its user.

Just because Pavel Durov made each application while keeping the privacy of its users on top of all, he had to face many problems. He was forced to leave Russia selling his million dollars’ worth of company into a little fraction of it. But it didn't stop him, he kept on struggling until he became what he is today, a billionaire tech giant.

He is 34 years old and now has the status of a global citizen even when he was forced to leave Russia. He is always dressed in black. Pavel respects other people's privacy so he also likes to keep his private life away from the spotlight.


While getting to know how he got his name in one of the richest people in the world, talking about VK is worth mentioning. First, he invented a social media platform, Vkontakte usually known as VK which had a value of around a billion dollars but due to the interruption of the surveillance mafia he had to sell it for only $460 Million.


After selling the company and leaving Russia his vision couldn't let him give up. So, he came up with another messenger app, Telegram. Still keeping the users’ privacy his priority, this messenger app provides encrypted messages. He launched a Telegram before 35 and operated it out of Dubai. As the founder of VK, his net worth was around $2.7 Billion. Enemies always come with the money. So, a private club of Russia became his enemies.


Pavel Durov was born on 10 October 1984 in Leningrad Russia. He spent his childhood in Turin, Italy where his father was a renowned Russian scholar and author. There is an interesting part. He also has a brother, Nikolai who won two-time world champion programmer as a student and he helped Pavel during his entire career.


When Pavel was only 17, one of his friends from America introduced him to Facebook for the first time. This biggest social media platform inspired Pavel so much that he decided to create a similar social media platform for Russia. Although he was a liberal art student still, he self-taught himself programming and coding.


During his whole career, he only had one thing in mind that privacy is a human right. So, when he made VK and got it on air for beta testing it gained 100,000 users at the beginning of 2017 and later in July of the same year, it crossed 1 million users. At that time, unfortunately, there were restrictions on the internet by the government and in the early days, no one knew about its uses and advantages.

A question comes to mind that Pavel wanted to give Russia its own social media platform then why he was forced to leave the country. In 2011, Vladimir Putin announced to remain PM although the public didn't want him to. So, people started protesting against him. Instead of doing so on road in a traditional way they did it on VK. So, to block this protest government requested Pavel to block all those accounts that were protesting against Putin to block them. But instead of doing so, Pavel posted a picture of the dog in a hoodie with his tongue out as a response to their requests.

His response raised anger in the government so they sent SWAT team to raid his apartment which he prevented by not opening the door but this was not it. Kremlin started a campaign against Durov and also filed a fake case of hit and run on a police officer on Pavel. All these tragedies forced Pavel to sell his billion dollars’ worth company into just a few million and leave Russia.


In 2013 Pavel launched a telegram as he was not going to give up after what the Russian government did to him. Telegram with time start gaining users although he didn't even spend a single penny on marketing his new app.

In 2014 there were 35 million users, in 2015 there were 60 million users, in 2016 they increased to 100 million users, in 2017 there were 180 million users and in 2018 they surpassed 200 million users as they were 220 million in total.

There is also one thing that benefited Pavel the most for his app. On the 14th of March 2019, Instagram and Facebook services were low so in 2019 telegram gained 3 million new users just in the margin of 24 hours.

Criticism on Telegram

After VK, the government started criticizing telegram as well. As we all know that it provides encrypted messages so the government said that telegram is dangerous as it can provide a safe platform for different criminals like sex traffickers, terrorists, kidnappers, etc. because they can't be tracked. It got telegram banned in China and Russia but later on, it came as some of the government employees use telegram. Few countries have put restrictions on telegram in their country.


In 2017 after the massive success of telegram, Pavel Durov promised his fans a new blockchain system named "ton". He said that it will be introduced soon as his team is working on it day and night. He is actively working with various cryptocurrency exchanges in Great Britain, China, and Japan ahead of launch. In 2019, he introduced one of the largest ICOs in history and made his way to the mass-market blockchain payment system. Pavel Durov always advises his fans that you should move away from good if you want to create something better.