Maelle Gavet @ TC Disrupt

Maëlle Gavet steps down as Ozon CEO

Yesterday Ozon Holdings, one of Russia’s most established players on the Russian e-commerce scene, announced that Maëlle Gavet, its French-born CEO since 2011, is moving on from the company.

Israeli-born Danny Perekalsky, currently Ozon’s deputy CEO, has been appointed as new CEO. He will assume the new role immediately, with Gavet staying with the company for a few months to guide the transition.

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Russian operators CDEK and SPSR fight to break postal monopoly on China-to-Russia e-commerce shipment market

Led by Alibaba’s B2C subsidiary AliExpress, Chinese online retailers have gained a significant share of the Russian e-commerce market over the past two years. Of the 70 million orders that were shipped by foreign online retailers to Russia last year, more than two-thirds came from China, according to estimates cited in EWDN’s last market research.

More than 90% of these shipments are operated by the Chinese and Russian postal services, with most Chinese sites offering postal delivery as the only options to their Russian customers. Express shipment companies like CDEK and SPSR Express, as well as several smaller operators such as Express RMS and Shiptor, are working hard to break this quasi-monopoly.

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Buran Capital

Moscow-based fund Buran Venture Capital contributed $8.5 million to Shazam’s latest funding round

Buran Venture Capital, a Moscow-based, internationally-oriented venture fund, appears to be among the backers of Shazam, which raised $30 million this past January in a funding round that valued it at over $1 billion.

While the other investors are still unidentified, the Russian fund revealed yesterday that it contributed $8.5 million in the round.

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Russian e-commerce leader Ulmart reports 50% sales increase in 2014, plans IPO in 2016

Ulmart, Russia’s leading e-commerce company, confirmed today its plan to go public next year in a yet-to-be-determined Western stock exchange, the company’s chairman and co-owner Dmitry Kostygin told Russian business daily RBC.

Ulmart is thus considering raising $1 billion or more in exchange for 25% of the company’s shares. Advisers for the IPO could be appointed in the next few months.

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Putin Bashing_Google

Google shuts down engineering office in Russia: Much ado about nothing?

Much speculation appeared today in the media following Google’s decision to move about one hundred of its engineers from its Russia office to other locations.

A major US site thus suggested that Google’s move could be related to the “changing climate in Russia [which] may lead more Internet companies to move their operations to other countries in the region.”

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Are Steve Jobs and Tim Cook dangerous gay propagandists?

The destiny of an electronic monument in memory of Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg has attracted public attention this week after its owner, a Russian company named “West-European Financial Union” (ZEFS in Russian), withdrew it in an expression of its radical anti-US and anti-gay stance.

The monument had been placed last year in the yard of the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO).

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Adrien Henni_new

Fast growth appeal vs. pressure of sanctions: Western VCs’ new Russia dilemma

The past few weeks have demonstrated the uncomfortable position Western venture capitalists that have traditionally invested in Russia are finding themselves in as a result of the international tensions. While, in the eyes of some them, the Russia label has become a stigma, other VCs have proclaimed their commitment to continue investing in Russian startups – with all the possible nuances of strategy and expression in between.

Among those loyal to Russia is Intel Capital, one of the pioneers in global emerging market investments. Having developed over the years a portfolio of more than 10 Russian companies, the fund led recently a $7.3 million Series A round in, a Russian web- and video-conferencing software company.

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Yandex EN

Yandex acquires PriceLabs, gets a divorce from MultiShip

Yandex’s strategy to develop its marketplace, Yandex Market, saw new developments in the past few weeks. The company acquired PriceLabs, the developer of a price monitoring and optimization solution, and abruptly ended cooperation with MultiShip, an aggregator of delivery service offers in which Yandex had invested earlier this year.

The Russian search giant did not disclose the terms of its transaction with PriceLabs, but it has annouced that the startup will continue to develop its service under the Yandex brand.

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Russia Partners sells US startup with Ukraine-based IT team to Japan’s Rakuten

Earlier this month Russia Partners, the Moscow-based private equity affiliate of global alternative investment firm Siguler Guff & Company, announced that Rakuten acquired Slice, a portfolio company in its technology fund. The details of the deal have not been revealed.

Over the past few years, the Japanese online retail company has invested several billion dollars in e-commerce projects in Asia, Europe including Russia, and North and South America. A few weeks ago Rakuten bought up cash-back rebate site Ebates for $1 billion, as reported by Venture Beat.

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Vkontakte Group takes over Vkontakte: The happy end of a 3-year financial, legal and political saga

Yesterday, Group, the LSE-listed Russian Internet giant, announced it now fully controls Vkontakte (, the leading Russian language social network with over 250 million registered accounts and 60 million daily users. The group, which already owned 52% of the company, bought the remaining 48% stake from UCP, the Russian investment fund that had become a VK shareholder in April last year. The all-cash transaction amounted to $1.47 billion.

The move is putting an end to a three-year-long saga over the ownership of the company, which involved financial interests, personal disputes, international lawsuits and political pressures.

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