|Type of business||OOO, Limited liability company|
Type of site
|Traded as||LSE: MAIL|
|Key people||Dmitry Grishin, Yuri Milner|
|Industry||Internet information providers|
|Products||Internet services (electronic mail, search engine, website catalogue, file hosting service, instant messaging, blogging, information, answers service)|
|Services||Email & portal, Social networks, Instant messaging, Online games, Search & e-commerce|
|Revenue||RUB 42.741 billion (2016)|
|Operating income||RUB 17.914 billion (2016)|
|Net income||RUB 11.616 billion (2016)|
|Alexa rank||30 (June 2019)|
|Launched||15 October 1998|
Mail.Ru Group, (commonly referred to as Mail.Ru) is a Russian internet company. It was started in 1998 as an e-mail service and went on to become a major corporate figure in the Russian-speaking segment of the Internet. As of 2013 according to comScore, websites owned by Mail.ru collectively had the largest audience in Russia and captured the most screen time.
Mail.Ru's sites reach approximately 86% of Russian Internet users on a monthly basis and the company is in the top 5 of largest Internet companies, based on the number of total pages viewed. Mail.Ru controls and operates the 3 largest and most popular Russian social networking sites, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, and Moi Mir, respectively.
Mail.ru holds 100% of shares of Russia's most popular social network VKontakte and minority stakes in Qiwi, formerly OE Investments (15.04%). It also operates two instant messaging networks (Mail.Ru Agent and ICQ), an e-mail service and Internet portal Mail.ru, as well as a number of online games.
The business was originally owned by Port.ru, a company founded in 1998 by Eugene Goland, Michael Zaitsev and Alexey Krivenkov as spin-off from DataArt. It received an initial investment of USD 1 million from the well-known investor (and fencing champion) James Melcher.
The Mail.ru business expanded rapidly to reach the No. 1 market position in Russia by 2000. Attempts to fund the company's expansion in 2000-2001 were thwarted by the collapse of the technology bubble and Mail.ru had to seek merger partners.
In 2001, Yuri Milner, at the time managing NetBridge (the owner of several internet brands), persuaded the entrepreneur Igor Linshits to back a merger of the Mail.ru business with NetBridge. Igor Linshits subsequently took an active role in the development of the Mail.ru business. In connection with the merger, Milner became Mail.ru CEO.
The company began to operate under its present name on 16 October 2001. Before that time its brand name was owned by Port.ru. It is headed by Dmitry Grishin. As of 2009 , its global Alexa rating is 29.
In 2003 Milner resigned from Mail.ru and subsequently set up another internet venture, Digital Sky Technologies (DST). In 2006 Igor Linshits sold his stake in Mail.ru to Tiger Fund and Milner's DST for more than $100 million. In September 2010, DST changed its name to Mail.ru Group. Dmitry Grishin became one of the Mail.ru Group co-founders.
In October 2010, Mail.ru announced plans for an IPO via the London stock-market listing of a subsidiary - also called Mail.ru - worth more than $5bn. The IPO will offer a stake of about 17% of the subsidiary. The subsidiary will include about a quarter of the group's shareholding in Facebook, stakes in Russia's two biggest social networking sites and Mail.ru. The company hired Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and VTB Capital to run the listing.
In March 2012, Yuri Milner stepped down from the role of Chairman of Mail.ru and from the board of directors. Dmitry Grishin was elected to the Board of Directors and appointed as Chairman of the Board while retaining his CEO position. There were no other changes to management or to the Board.
In late 2012, Mail.ru Group's plans for buying two-letter domain My.com became known. This was interpreted as an intention of dominating world markets and of the upcoming re-branding of services under this name. At the end of 2012, Mail.ru Group bought the Ukrainian email service mail.ua and the registration of email addresses using this domain started on 23 April 2013.
Mail.Ru Group offers a variety of online communication products and entertainment services for Russian speakers all over the world
On 15 May 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to impose a ban on Mail.ru and its widely used social networks including VKontakte and Odnoklassniki as part of its continued sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and involvement in the War in Donbass. The move was widely criticised as censorship, and Reporters Without Borders condemned the ban, calling it a "disproportionate measure that seriously undermines the Ukrainian people's right to information and freedom of expression." Mail.ru itself estimated (in August 2017) that the ban had cost them around 1.5% of total revenues in 2017.
In 5 November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Russian state organizations with ties to Vladimir Putin pursued between 2009 and 2011 large investments in Facebook and Twitter via an intermediary--Russian-American billionaire and entrepreneur Yuri Milner, founder of Mail.Ru and DST Global, who befriended Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and was a business associate of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law.
A Kremlin-owned firm, VTB Bank, put $191 million into DST Global, which used it to buy a large share of Twitter in 2011. A subsidiary of the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom funded an investment company that partnered with DST Global to buy shares in Facebook, reaping millions when the social media giant went public in 2012. Twitter similarly went public in 2013. The US government sanctioned VTB in 2014 because of the Russian military intervention in Crimea, but DST Global had sold its stake in Twitter by then. Four days after the Facebook IPO, a DST Global subsidiary sold more than 27 million shares of Facebook for roughly $1 billion.