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

Yesterday, Mail.ru Group, the LSE-listed Russian Internet giant, announced it now fully controls Vkontakte (VK.com), 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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Wikimart.ru raises $40 million from domestic investors after failing to attract foreign VCs

Wikimart, a major Russian B2C marketplace, has agreed a capital increase with a group of Russian investors, including Finprombank chairman Anatoly Goncharov. The news was revealed last week by business daily Kommersant and confirmed to East-West Digital News by Wikimart’s press service.

The $40 million capital injection will be used in part to acquire Terminal.ru, a multichannel retail group that comprises a network of 25 outlets in 13 Russian cities as well as e-commerce sites Terminal.ru and Mallstreet.ru.

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Wired highlights 10 Russian startups but gets it wrong with rosy business predictions

In a series on Europe’s “hottest startups,” the UK edition of tech magazine Wired published earlier this month a selection of 10 Russian startups. These included peer-to-peer publishing platform Gitoon, e-commerce intelligence platform Ometria, “rephotography” app publisher Timera, slideshow assistant app Penxy, music-streaming service 10tracks, taxi app publisher Wheely, driving navigational system WayRay, video game marketplace Gameslooper, educational program comparison engine Choister, and autopilot system developer RoboCV.

Wired — which says nothing about its selection criteria — presents the Russian startup scene quite optimistically. Citing perhaps outdated statements by Russian venture capitalists, the UK publication envisions an “increase in private and international investors on the Russian venture market” and “an average GDP per capita growth of six percent per year until 2015.”

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East-West Digital News is published with the support of:
  • Higher school of economics
  • The Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge
  • Russian Venture Company
  • Territory of tomorrow foundation