The best of Russia. VK, Telegram and TON?

The best of Russia. VK, Telegram and TON?

2020, Sep 01    

This issue was planned to be posted today, i.e. 1 Sept. And there’s a reason which I just discovered last week.
Today is the Knowledge Day, in Russia!

Do I have Russian followers? I think not. Can we change it, you can! Help me by sharing this.

Even though we don’t have a Russian subscriber, we can pick something relative to Russia and discuss it, right? No, I am not going to talk in Russian, and I’m unfortunately not here to discuss the Russian’s presence in Dota servers either.

There’s a popular messaging app, goes by the name Telegram. It’s built by Pavel Durov, a Russian software engineer cum entrepreneur - and a pretty bold one. This is not a newsletter taking interviews of famous engineers/entrepreneurs. I’d love to, but for now, we can settle with information out there in public from other interviews.

Let’s skim his businesses’ entire story real quick.

Birth of the VKontakt

If you haven’t heard, this is popular as the “Facebook of Russia” and is mostly used there only. VK was built by Pavell himself along with his brother Nikolai, back in 2006. The idea indeed was inspired by Facebook, which itself was in early stages back then.

Little did they know this would catch success real quick. They had to up their system servers right after the first month of release. And VK was the top 50 most visited Russian websites within 3 months.
It has never looked down since.

Fast forward, 2014, with investors wanting to get more stake of the company, pushed Pavel out of the CEO position, and then slowly Pavel gave and sold all his stake at VK. Managed to step out holding millions of $ and thousands of Bitcoins.

He didn’t step out to nothing; he had another child to caress.

Not the Whatsapp of Russia

We’re talking about Telegram messenger which emerged as a copy-cat WhatsApp but with more focus towards privacy with its unique encryption mechanism. Pavel had left Russia completely after exiting VK and hence the Telegram messenger originated in Berlin, Germany.

Speaking of the unique encryption mechanism, they designed it so even the messenger owners would not be able to access the user chats. The secret chats are End-to-end(E2E) encrypted - meaning even the makers can’t access these chats, not the FBI, not anyone else.

(Telegram is not the only messenger focusing on this, and also it’s regular chats are not E2E encrypted. Signal messenger has tighter security, but has limitations accordingly which means it’ll never gain the popularity - that’s for some other article maybe.)

So, these E2E chats which the Police and government can’t access have created problems in the past for telegram too. Russian government just wouldn’t understand why they can’t and won’t share the user chat data upon demand and then proceeded to ban Telegram in 2018 claiming it promoted terrorism and drug dealings.

Which gave rise to VPN apps in Russia so they can still use Telegram, and even Pavel started donating Bitcoins to VPN services which allowed Telegram’s use in Russia. (Are you an ex-TikTok user? Does this give you a hint?)

TONs into failure.

Heard about “TON” blockchain and “gram” cryptocurrency? It’s the main basis of today’s article. Before we begin with this, if you are not clear about the blockchain concept, then you may wanna go and check out my take on layman explanation of Blockchain/Bitcoin which is published by “The Capital” medium publication - here

Alright, so the “TON” here is Telegram Open Network, a blockchain by Telegram, when they decided to integrate money transactions so the alleged Terrorists can decide the attacks along with necessary financials from right inside the app. How convenient.

With such growth of VK and Telegram, it’s clear that these guys don’t bet small. And even this Blockchain, announced in 2018, managed to collect around 2 Billion for the ICO(Initial Coin Offering). With an initial plan to release MVP for TON somewhere in the second quarter of 2018, with a full launch planned for 2019. We’re over halfway done with 2020 at the time of writing with no signs of TONs around. What happened?

The release had been postponed several times, best by a cocktail of legal, technical, and investor problems…until March 2020. Congratulations, there are not going to be any more delays because the whole blockchain has been banned by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)!

And yus, that means TON blockchain is canceled. No more money in grams.

But…what about the investors’ money? Not smoked. Telegram still has hopes for an unban and offered a refund “deal” to the investors based on belief. Allowing them to choose either to lose a little (28%, not little.) amount or wait until April 2021 and get 110%. Either in the form of fiat currency or grams. (here)

Which comes to an end with a question. Had you been an investor in TON/gram, would you have preferred getting the 72% back now or waiting another year for 100%? Let me know in the Comments 👇