Pavel Valerievich Durov
10 October 1984
|Alma mater||Saint Petersburg State University|
|Years active||October 2006–Present|
|Known for||Founding VK in 2006 |
Founding Telegram Messenger in 2013
|Relatives||Nikolai Durov (brother)|
Pavel Valerievich Durov (Russian: ; born 10 October 1984) is a Russian entrepreneur who is best known for being the founder of the social networking site VK, and later the Telegram Messenger. He is the younger brother of Nikolai Durov. Since being dismissed as CEO of VK in 2014, the Durov brothers have traveled the world in self-imposed exile as citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis. In 2017 Pavel joined the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders as a representative of Finland.
Pavel Durov's grandfather Semyon Petrovich Tulyakov participated in World War II. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, participated in the battles at Leningrad front on Krasnoborsky Gatchinsky and other directions, was wounded three times, receiving the Order of the Red Star, the Order of the Patriotic War II degree, and on the 40th Victory Day, the Order of the Great Patriotic War level I. After the war, he was arrested.
Durov's father Valery Semenovich Durov is a Doctor of Philological Sciences, the author of many scientific papers, and since 1992 he has been head of the department of classical philology of philological faculty of St. Petersburg State University.
Pavel Durov was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), but spent most of his childhood in Turin, Italy. His father Valery (who holds a PhD in philology) was employed there. He attended an Italian elementary school, and after returning to Russia in 2001 attended the Academy Gymnasium in St. Petersburg. In 2006, he graduated from the Philology Department of the Saint Petersburg State University, where he received a first class degree. Pavel Durov's early life and career are described in detail in the Russian-language book The Durov Code. The True Story of VK and its Creator (2012).
Durov started VKontakte, later known as VK, in 2006, which was initially influenced by Facebook. During the time when he and his brother Nikolai built upon the VKontakte website, the company grew to a value of $3 billion.
In 2011, he was involved in a standoff with police in St. Petersburg when the government demanded the removal of opposition politicians' pages after the 2011 election to the Duma; Durov posted a picture of a dog with his tongue out wearing a hoodie and the police left after an hour when he did not answer the door.
In 2012, Durov publicly posted a picture of himself extending his middle finger and calling it his official response to Mail.ru's efforts to buy VK. In December 2013, Durov was pressured[vague] into selling his 12% of VK stock to Ivan Tavrin, the owner of the major Russian internet company Mail.ru, who subsequently sold it to Mail.ru, giving it 52% majority ownership of VK. In 2014, Mail.ru bought all remaining shares and became the sole owner of VK.
On 1 April 2014 Durov submitted his resignation to the board; at first, due to the fact the company confirmed he had resigned, it was believed to be related to the Ukrainian crisis which started in February. However, Durov himself claimed it was an April Fool's Joke on 3 April 2014.
On 16 April 2014 Durov publicly refused to hand over data of Ukrainian protesters to Russia's security agencies and block Alexei Navalny's page on VK. Instead he posted the relevant orders on his own VK page  claiming that the requests were unlawful.
On 21 April 2014 Durov was dismissed as CEO of VK. The company claimed it was acting on his letter of resignation a month earlier that he failed to recall. Durov then claimed the company had been effectively taken over by Vladimir Putin's allies, suggesting his ouster was the result of both his refusal to hand over personal details of users to federal law enforcement and his refusal to hand over the personal details of people who were members of a VKontakte group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement. Durov then left Russia and stated that he had "no plans to go back" and that "the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment".
Upon leaving Russia, he obtained Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship through donating $250,000 to the country's Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, and secured US$300 million in cash within Swiss banks. This allowed him to focus on creating his next company, Telegram, which was originally based in Berlin and focused on an encrypted messaging service.
Durov is a self-described libertarian and vegetarian. In 2012, he published manifestos described by commentators as "Libertarianism" detailing his ideas on improving Russia. For his twenty-seventh birthday in 2011, he donated a million dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation, the founder and honorary chairman of which is fellow libertarian Jimmy Wales.
On June 21, 2018 the Union of Kazakhstan's Journalists awarded Pavel Durov "for his principled position against censorship and the state's interference into citizens' free online correspondence."
Fortune magazine included Pavel Durov into their "40 Under 40" list, an annual ranking of the most influential young people in business.