Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov has stated that he owns Bitcoin.
He did so a couple of days ago on his official Telegram channel, with a post dedicated to the platform’s successes.
Telegram and Bitcoin
Indeed, Durov revealed that more than 2.5 million new users are signing up for Telegram every day, and as of early 2023 the platform has surpassed 800 million monthly active users.
The post actually served mainly to give an explanation of why they recently decided to issue bonds.
Durov pointed out that such massive growth has also necessarily generated more expenses to serve users, particularly for storage and traffic.
Although he says Telegram is very efficient in terms of managing costs, he admits that the service is not yet profitable.
It is worth noting that monetization of the platform has only been active since last year, so he believes it would have been impossible to achieve full profitability in such a short time. However, he stresses that Telegram is closer to profitability than competitors such as Twitter or Snap.
And it is precisely to finance the platform’s continued growth with the goal of achieving a balanced budget that this week they issued bonds with a total value of about $270 million. Durov reveals that these bonds were also purchased by well-known funds “with stellar reputations.”
About a quarter of the new Telegram bonds were purchased directly by him, investing tens of millions of dollars in the platform’s growth, in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars he says he has spent over the past 10 years to keep it operational.
Pavel Durov is a Russian born in St. Petersburg, but he also holds French citizenship, as well as UAE and St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship.
Telegram is not his first success, because he previously founded VKontakte (VK) in 2006, which is the most successful social network in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Durov left VKontakte in 2014, due to the fact that he resented political interference by some associates close to President Putin.
When he resigned from VKontakte, he was succeeded by the former CEO of the oil company Rosneft, Igor Sečin, along with Mail.ru owner Ališer Usmanov. Later Usmanov also took over Sečin’s shareholding, becoming its main shareholder.
Indeed, he had already come into conflict with the Russian authorities in 2011, and the following year Mail.ru attempted to buy VK. In 2013 Durov sold his entire shareholding to Ivan Tavrin, who then sold them right back to Mail.ru Group.
From this sale it is possible that he cashed in more than $150 million, much of which he apparently invested in Telegram.
Telegram and Bitcoin investments
However, by his own admission, Durov did not invest his millions solely in Telegram.
Indeed, in his post two days ago, he reveals that although some people had suggested that he buy a house or a jet, he had preferred to invest in his work, without buying anything else apart from a few Bitcoin and Toncoin.
Thus, he did not reveal how many BTC he owns, but he did admit that the only real investment he has made in his post-VK life has been Bitcoin itself.
Indeed Toncoin (TON) is none other than the cryptocurrency created by Telegram itself, although it has now changed its name and is called The Open Network (TON). Previously it was called the Telegram Open Network.
Telegram’s ICO, whose token was supposed to be called Gram, had been launched in late 2017, but already stalled the following year. Later, partly due to a mega-money fine issued in 2020 by the SEC, the project had been abandoned by the company and turned into a decentralized project.
It is therefore not surprising that Durov still has TON in his portfolio, which are the tokens that replaced the earlier Gram tokens that never landed on the crypto markets.
Instead, the BTC he has in his portfolio must have been acquired, possibly even before 2014, or mined. However, the cost of acquisition is not known, hence not even how much he has made off of them so far.
However, given that Telegram was created in 2013, when it was looking for an alternative that was unassailable by the authorities (unlike VK), it is not impossible to imagine that it approached Bitcoin around that same time, that is, during the first big post-halving bull run that took the price of BTC from $10 to over $1,000 in less than a year.
It is worth noting that, unlike the major cryptocurrencies, the price of TON during 2023 has been declining, because it has gone from $2 at the beginning of the year to the current $1.4. But it had previously risen quite a bit from the low of $0.8 in 2022.
The current price is 76% below the November 2021 highs, but well above the $0.7 of its beginnings in the crypto markets in August of that year.
It is therefore a decidedly recent coin, with less than two years on the crypto markets, even though the original project has been in existence since 2017.
It is worth mentioning that the previous Gram token never made it to the financial markets, because Telegram’s cryptocurrency project was halted earlier.
The fact that Telegram started a crypto project in 2017 suggests that Durov bought BTC before the big bull run that year, when the price went from about $1,000 to nearly $20,000.
In other words, everything suggests that so far Durov has made a profit from investing in Bitcoin.