Pavel Durov — Detailed Biography in 2020

a month ago
Pavel Durov
Pavel Durov

Russian Zuckerberg, Russian Neo, an intelligent boor, an excellent student with a bad character … Such epithets describe the media as one of the most famous Russians in the modern world. 

Almost every millennial and every representative of the digital generation in the post-Soviet space knows or even has the slightest idea who Durov is. Indeed, thanks to him, the first social network appeared in the Russian-language segment of the Internet, which changed the life of an entire generation. He is an entrepreneur, programmer, creator of the VKontakte social network and the Telegram messenger. His name is Pavel Durov and this article is dedicated to him. 

Who is Pavel Durov

Pavel Durov is the creator of the popular social network VKontakte and the famous Telegram messenger. Durov, being an extraordinary person, is known for creating ambitious projects, for his eccentric antics and loud statements, but at the same time, little is known about him, since Pavel is not a fan of giving interviews and sharing the details of his personal life. 

Let's try to figure out what is known about him at the moment.

Pavel Durov — creator of  VKontakte and Telegram
Pavel Durov — creator of  VKontakte and Telegram

Biography

Pavel Valeryevich Durov was born on October 10, 1984 in St. Petersburg in the intellectuals family of Albina and Valery Durov. Pavel is their second common child. He also has an older brother, Nikolai.

Both brothers inherited outstanding mental abilities from their parents, which is not surprising, since Pavel’s father is a doctor of philological sciences, the author of such scientific works, as "Julius Caesar: a man and a writer" and "Nero: an actor on the throne", head of the department of classical philology of the philological faculty of St. Petersburg State University, and his mother worked as a professor at the same university.

Pavel Durov in childhood
Pavel Durov in childhood

As a child, Pavel had to move with his family to Italy, where in Turin his father was offered to work. There, Pavel went to first grade. Two years later, the whole family returned to Russia, where Pavel went to study at secondary school. After studying there for four years, Pavel transferred to the D.K. Faddeev Academic Gymnasium, where he studied all subjects in depth, including four foreign languages. 

Pavel Durov In His Youth

From a young age, Pavel gained a reputation as a scholar and ... mischievous. Once Pavel made a shocking act: he took a photo of an informatics teacher and set it as wallpaper on all school computers, accompanied by the inscription "Must die".

After that, Pavel was denied access to computers, but he successfully circumvented the ban by hacking passwords. And it is not surprising that he had such skills, because from the age of 11 he was passionate about programming with his brother. 

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Also, Pavel often argued with teachers, defending his point of view.

After graduating from high school with a silver medal, Pavel Durov entered the philology faculty of St. Petersburg State University with a degree in English philology and translation.

By the way, according to the information on Pavel’s official page in VK, he speaks eight languages: Russian, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Latin and Farsi. It is impossible to say how true this information is.

Durov Pavel 
Durov Pavel 

At university, Pavel was one of the best students with a high level of intelligence. Durov repeatedly won victories in the Olympiads in linguistics, programming and design, was a scholarship holder of the Government of the Russian Federation and the President of the Russian Federation, three times winner of the Potanin Prize. 

Already in his student years, Pavel showed himself as a leader and organizer. He created the durov.com website, which housed a database of educational materials that were intended for students of humanities. Then he realized another idea - to unite students of St. Petersburg State University for virtual communication using the forum. Thus the site spbgu.ru was born.

On this site, each student had his own personal account, which included columns with the following data: name, faculty, list of friends and groups. Each user also had the opportunity to blog. That's how the prototype of the VK social network came into being. To promote his site, Pavel organized in-university beauty and design contests, and sometimes, to revitalize the forum, he arranged heated discussions with himself using an anonymous account. 

Forum spbgu.ru
Forum spbgu.ru

In 2006, Pavel Durov graduated from the university with honors.

It is noteworthy that in this university Pavel was trained at the military faculty with a specialization in Propaganda and Psychological Warfare. 

Further, Durov devoted his life to creation, self-development and entrepreneurship. During all this time, his offspring “VKontakte” and “Telegram” appeared, the subsequent development of which led to a conflict (as you can read below) with the Russian authorities, as a result of which Pavel emigrated from the Russian Federation.

Where Pavel Durov lives

Durov left Russia in April 2014, saying that he would not return to his homeland, since the rules of the game in this country are opaque and it is impossible to conduct an online business in it, especially after refusing to cooperate with the authorities. 

Today, Pavel lives a nomadic life. He travels with his team of programmers around the world and stays in the same country for no more than a month 

Pavel on a horse in the desert
Pavel on a horse in the desert

Citizenship

In the spring of 2013, Pavel became a citizen of the island state of Saint Kitts and Nevis, donating $ 250,000 to the Sugar Fund of this small country. Having made an investment in the country's economy, Paul received a passport from a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis. With this passport, Pavel can visit 132 countries without visas, including the EU and the UK. It is noteworthy that the new citizenship of Durov became known only in 2014, when he officially left Russia. It turns out that Pavel has long considered the possibility of leaving his homeland. 

Pavel Durov's scan of the passport 
Pavel Durov's scan of the passport 

Status

Durov's Status
Durov's Status

According to Forbes magazine, the financial condition of Pavel Durov has been growing since 2016. In 2016 in the ranking of 200 richest Russians he occupied 135th place with a state of 600 million dollars, then by 2020 he had risen to 30th place and his state was 3.4 billion dollars.

The main sources of income for Pavel are the Telegram messenger and the TON blockchain platform. It is possible that in the near future Pavel’s condition may decrease, since in May 2020 Pavel announced the cancellation of the TON Blockchain system, which would force Pavel to return money to investors. And this is approximately 1.7 billion dollars. 

Pavel Durov VK

The story of the creation of VKontakte began with the fact that back in 2006, his old friend Vyacheslav Mirilashvili wrote to Durov, who was studying in the USA at that time. Vyacheslav told him about the growing popularity of the Facebook social network and shared his thoughts on this subject. So they came up with the idea of creating a Russian-language analogue of the social network. Pavel took over the creative part of the project, his brother Nikolai - the technical, and Vyacheslav and their mutual friend Lev Leviev supported the project financially. 

Durov with investors
Durov with investors

On October 1, 2006, the company, founded by Pavel Durov, Vyacheslav Mirilashvili and Lev Leviev, registered the domain vkontakte.ru. And on October 10 of the same year, when Pavel turned 22, the platform began to function. 

At first, the network could register only by invitation, but in December 2006, registration became available to everyone. During the year, more than 3 million users were registered on the network. The leadership of the social network organized various competitions in order to attract new users. In the same year, the VKontakte social network attracted the first investor, Yuri Milner, who bought 25% of the shares, which were then sold to the Mail.Ru Group holding. 

Social network began to commercialize — there appeared banners with contextual advertising and a virtual currency in the form of “votes”, with the help of which you can increase the page rating and give virtual gifts to friends. 

At the end of 2007, the VKontakte website became one of the leaders in attendance in Runet, and the number of users increased to 20 million. At the same time, the main office of VKontakte moved to the famous Singer House on Nevsky Prospekt. Years passed, the popularity of VKontakte grew, the social network developed technically and commercially.

Since 2010, VKontakte shares have gradually been bought up by the Internet holding company Mail.Ru Group. In 2011, a conflict broke out between Pavel and the head of the holding Dmitry Grishin. Dmitry Grishin said that his holding intends to buy all shares of VKontakte and merge it with Odnoklassniki, a competing social network. 

Pavel Durov answered this statement with a photograph, where he shows the middle finger, and under the photo there is the inscription "The official response to the Mail trash holding company for its next attempts to absorb VKontakte."  As a result, the deal failed and, due to the conflict, Pavel quarreled with his partners Mirilashvili and Leviev. They, without the knowledge of Durov and Mail.Ru Group, sold their 48% stake to the UCP investment fund. 

That's the same photo
That's the same photo

The UCP, in turn, began to make claims to Pavel that he was wasting time and resources on developing his personal projects, and not on VKontakte. Although Durov himself claimed that he was spending his own money, not companies. In the course of this conflict, both parties against each other "exchanged" lawsuits, which were subsequently withdrawn. 

Soon, Pavel Durov sold his 12% stake in VKontakte to General Director of Megafon Ivan Tavrin. After a couple of months, Tavrin sold his stake to Mail.Ru Group, as a result, the holding became the owner of a 52% stake in VKontakte. 

In 2014, Pavel issued an April Fools' joke - he resigns from the post of General Director of VKontakte due to significant changes in the shareholding of the company’s management. On April 16, Pavel said that the Prosecutor General’s Office had put forward a demand to issue data from the organizers of the Euromaidan community and block the community of Alexei Navalny “Rospil”. Durov refused this requirement. And on April 21, Pavel wrote on his official page that he had been dismissed from the post of CEO. Moreover, this was done in absentia, to which Pavel paid special attention. So ended the general story of Pavel Durov and VKontakte, which lasted seven and a half years. 

Nevertheless, Pavel continues to use his official VK account and periodically posts important news from it. 

Pavel’s official VK page
Pavel’s official VK page

Durov Created Telegram

Durov created Telegram
Durov created Telegram

In 2011, in connection with anti-government mass protests in Moscow, special forces troops appeared at the doors of Durov’s house. It was then that Pavel thought about his own future in Russia and realized that he did not have a safe way to contact his brother. So the initial idea of creating a Telegram messenger arose. 

Over the course of two years, his brother Nikolai Durov developed the unique MTProto encryption protocol, which became a feature of the application. Thanks to this feature, users can communicate in secret Telegram chats with a high level of security and data security. 

In August 2013, the official version of Telegram for iOS was released, and two months later for Android. A desktop client for Windows, MacOS, and Linux later appeared. A web version of Telegram for browsers has also been developed.

Telegram Messenger
Telegram Messenger

Over the entire period of its existence, the messenger’s functionality has been regularly updated with various innovations: secret chats, encrypted audio calls, editing and deleting sent messages, creating groups and channels, listening to music using the built-in player, archiving chats and sorting them into folders, using animated stickers and emojis and much more. 

The development of this offspring led Durov to a protracted conflict with Roskomnadzor, as a result of which Telegram in the Russian Federation was blocked. . It is noteworthy that Telegram is not only blocked in the Russian Federation, but also in Iran and China. In these countries, the messenger has become a platform for the opposition, which is not very pleased with the local authorities.

Also, Pavel Durov rather aggressively advertised his new project, not disdaining criticism towards the main competitor — WhatsApp (which has been owned by Facebook since 2014). At the TechCrunch forum in 2015, Pavel gave an interview where he expressed himself unflattering about the WhatsApp messenger, saying that “WhatsApp sucks”. To this day, Pavel publishes posts on why Telegrams are better than WhatsApp.

Pavel Durov at the TechCrunch forum

Telegram is growing in popularity every year. As of April 24, 2020, the total number of active Telegram users is 400 million. 

Telegram is most popular in such countries:

  • Iran;
  • Russia;
  • Malaysia;
  • Ukraine;
  • Kazakhstan;
  • Israel;
  • India;
  • Italy;
  • Spain;
  • And also in Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
The official Durov’s channel in Telegram
The official Durov’s channel in Telegram

Durov also has his own official channel in Telegram, where he shares with the public the news and his thoughts.

Durov Brothers

The Durov brothers — Nikolai and Pavel           
The Durov brothers — Nikolai and Pavel           

All of the aforementioned projects of Pavel are closely related to his older brother — Nicholai. From childhood, Nikolai showed interest in hard sciences, as Pavel had a certain inclination for the humanitarian.   Nevertheless, the brothers in their youth had a passion for a common cause — programming.         

Nikolai Durov       
Nikolai Durov       

Nikolai, being a talented programmer, wrote the first lines of code for the VKontakte platform, when it was only at the initial stage of development, and then, as the popularity of the social network grew, he became more involved in its development and eventually took the position of technical director and lead developer of the company, where he worked until 2014, until Pavel quit and took his whole team with him. 

Scandals

Pavel Durov repeatedly found himself in the center of scandals and attracted media attention with eccentric antics. 

For example, on May 9, 2012, Pavel posted a stinging tweet that the people didn't celebrate Victory Day, but the right Stalin had won from Hitler to repress his people. This tweet caused a lot of angry responses. Pavel explained his tweet that his grandfather who fought in the Second World War, was repressed after the war. 

May 9 tweet
May 9 tweet

A few weeks later, on the day of the city of St. Petersburg, Pavel arranged a scandalous flash mob. Top managers of VKontakte, led by him, threw airplanes from five-thousandth bills out of the window of the company's office on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. The gathered crowd under the windows tried eagerly to catch money planes, which led to a fight. People with broken noses climbed on poles to get "gifts."This action Durov filmed. Pavel explained his deed by the fact that he simply wanted to cheer up the residents of the city.  

Pavel and his team throw "money" airplanes 
Pavel and his team throw "money" airplanes 

At the end of 2012, Pavel nobly touched the popular Russian singer Sergei Lazarev. Lazarev in his official twitter account said he would file a lawsuit on VKontakte because his songs on the social network were distributed in a pirated way.

A few weeks later, an answer came from Durov:

All Lazarev’s songs on VKontakte were deleted due to a lack of cultural value.

Answer of Durov to Lazarev
Answer of Durov to Lazarev

When the scandalous former US intelligence officer Edward Snowden ended up in Russia, Durov sent him an invitation to work on VKontakte, backing him with a post on VKontakte. Pavel wrote that it would be nice if Snowden would protect the data of millions of VKontakte users. But the American rejected the offer.

In 2017, Pavel in his Instagram account organized another flash mob #PutinShirtlessChallenge. Durov published his photos with a bare torso and urged all users to follow his example, thus challenging Vladimir Putin.Few supported the flashmob, but a bunch of funny memes with undressed Durov appeared.

Meme about Pavel’s flashmob    
Meme about Pavel’s flashmob    

Durov’s Views and Beliefsv

Durov’s views and beliefs    
Durov’s views and beliefs    

Pavel is a supporter of libertarian political and economic views. This explains why he is reluctant to cooperate with government agencies. He believes that no person or structure has the right to infringe on private property or personal information. 

Pavel also advocates the de-standardization of the educational system, referring to the fact that modern schools in the West are a relic of the industrial era and are a conveyor of people with template views. Pavel predicts that the future of education is for interactive learning and decentralization of the system itself.

Pavel supports a radical increase in taxes on industries involved in the extraction of raw materials, the abolition of taxes in the information sphere and the deliverance of the population from high customs duties. However, he believes that taxpayers should choose the projects on which their taxes will be spent. 

Durov also believes that it is necessary to cancel registration, passports, entry visas and military draft, calling the above the rudiments of feudalism. In his opinion, the restriction of movement rights leads to the outflow of the best minds from the country.

Screen  Pavel’s page in VK   
Screen Pavel’s page in VK   

In terms of religious beliefs, Buddhism is close to Pavel. Although some sources claim that he is a Pastafarian. Of famous personalities, he is inspired by Steve Jobs. For Pavel, the main thing in life is self-development, and in people he appreciates courage and perseverance. 

When Pavel was 33 years old, he published a post where he indicated that he had not consumed sugar, animal meat, fast food for a long time, does not drink energy drinks, tea and coffee, categorically does not accept pills, nicotine and alcohol, and also does not watch television and its analogues.       

Personal Life

 In the documentary book of Nikolai Kononov, "The Code of Durov," Pavel is described as a cold and distant person. He can be obsessed with the idea and get carried away with it to the maximum, working on its implementation around the clock, and he requires the same zeal from his environment. 

Judging by the photos of Pavel on Instagram, he is managing his body.It is also especially noticeable how his appearance has changed over the years. If in college the bald patches were visible on Pavel’s head, and his ears were protruding, but now he is the owner of chic hair, and ears are altered by otoplasty. 

Pavel in his youth and now
Pavel in his youth and now

Durov does not share the details of his personal life. In some media sources you can find photos, on which he is captured in the company of beautiful girls with whom he attributed novels. But from Pavel Durov no official statements of this nature have been received. So his personal life for the media is a total mystery.

Pavel Durov’s Quotes

Pavel Durov’s Quotes        
Pavel Durov’s Quotes        

And finally, we have collected for you the most interesting Pavel’s statements.

About state and church holidays:

"Red days of the calendar - tools to instill ideology and stimulate consumption. "Neither officials, nor traditions, nor society have the right to tell a person when to work, when to relax, what to celebrate, and whom to congratulate with."

About the media:

"Media reports seem plausible exactly as long as they do not cover something that you know from personal experience."

About motivation:

"Learn foreign languages. This will expand the depth of perception of the world and open unprecedented prospects for learning, development and career growth."

About money:

"Money is overvalued because creation is much more interesting than consumption, and the internal state is incomparably more important than the external."

About the competitors:           

"Where there is no competition, there is no progress."

About loneliness:

"Communication is overrated. An hour of loneliness is more productive than a week of talk."

About love:

"Nicotine and alcohol are the most dangerous drugs. I banned the advertising of cigarettes and drinks on VKontakte. Love is also a drug. That's why I don’t fall in love."        

And that’s all for today, the t9gram project is all about Telegram.