On September 18, 2017, a former employee of VKontakte and Telegram Anton Rosenberg published an essay in nine parts devoted to the end of friendship and working together with brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Summary: Nikolai made Anton's dismissal from Telegram, because he decided to priadarit for his wife, Catherine, and Paul pulled out of the "VKontakte" project actually ready messenger "Telegraph" and turned it into Telegram. The text is posted on medium.com, accompanied by touching photos and screenshots of correspondence.
The story of Rosenberg's unlawful dismissal came to court, but ended with an amicable settlement and payment of a small compensation. Anton, however, continued the information attacks on Telegram. It was he who merged the news into the network that Telegram is preparing to raise funds through the ICO. On the plans for placement, Pavel Durov is still silent, but asked his Twitter readers to inform him about the cases of collecting money.
Telegram's audience is constantly growing. In February 2016, Durov reported that he had taken a 100 million regular user base (with monthly activity), and 200 million were expected in I Vartal 2018. A study by the analytical company App Annie gives a more modest picture: Telegram approached 100 million users only in IV quarter of 2017. So many users had Snapchat, when during the IPO the company was estimated at $ 24 billion. However, Snapchat and Telegram have different audiences, so they can not be compared directly. But even according to the most conservative estimates of Forbes, Telegram costs more than $ 1 billion, and its creator Pavel Durov is a dollar billionaire. According to preliminary estimates of Forbes, the state of the founder of Telegram is at least $ 1.7 billion. And the opportunities for growth are not yet exhausted.
From the White Paper ICO (which is similar to the IPO prospectus), it appears that the Telegram team is creating a multifunctional block-based platform that includes in addition to the messenger several other important services similar to those already in place in the world: quick money transfers (like Paypal, Visa ), smart contracts (Ethereum), a system of proxy servers (Tor, I2P), domain names (DNS), distributed storage and access to files (BitTorrent), lists the senior investment manager of Runa Capital Konstantin Vinogradov. Will Durov succeed in reversing the existing financial order in the world?
The Third Coming
When reading the White Paper ICO of the TON project (Telegram Open Network), it seems that the team of Durov is preparing at least to reinvent the blockade (the authenticity of the documents was confirmed by several friends of Durov for Forbes).
The first popular block system was bitcoin, which allows to transfer funds in the crypto currency since 2009. The creator or group of creators of bitcoin, known under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, was never able to declassify. Six years later, the Ethereum network of the young programmer of Russian origin Vitalik Buterina gave the opportunity to transfer money between users automatically when fulfilling pre-agreed conditions - these are the so-called smart contracts.
Over time, the shortcomings of both systems. Bitcoin was not so fast and flexible: transactions are sometimes delayed for a day. And the developers of products on the air periodically found holes in smart contracts. Both crypto-currency networks suffered from a low number of transactions per unit of time. The developers of TON promise to fix all this and implement many other previously specified functions. The Telegram messenger will become only one of the many components of a large ecosystem that will be created in stages.
Until the end of 2018, during testing of the TON platform, it is planned to issue a purse with a simple interface for storing crypto currency. "Pavel has proved, and more than once, that he can make very simple interfaces. And the existing wallets require some tension, "notes the general director of the association" FinTech "Sergei Solonin. In his opinion, there is a place for new products on cryptology.
A year later, in 2019, should earn other services, for example, "supercomputer", or rather distributed computing on the computers of network participants. Now, in order to master bitcoin and ether, we need substantial computing power. In TON, this is not required: the algorithm will simply enable users to download existing systems by renting them for resource-intensive calculations.
The new block system can solve the problem of existing systems with a distributed registry: the bandwidth from the current ten transactions per second to millions will increase, which will support hundreds of millions of users, and reduce power consumption. Is it realistic? Sergei Solonin believes that such a strong programmer, as Nikolai Durov, "can swing at it." And he adds: "Even if they solve some of the problems, it will be a breakthrough."
Features of the implementation of recording information in the block system (the so-called Proof-of-Stake mechanism) will allow to achieve the speed of transactions in the block-network, comparable to transactions of traditional Visa and Mastercard payment systems, is affirmed in White Paper. If Pavel Durov realizes at least part of the announced opportunities, he will receive not just an instant messenger or a crypto-exchange network, but a platform on which users can provide each other services and receive payment for this in the crypto currency.
WeChat, with which Telegram is often compared, is very popular in China and allows you to pay directly in the messenger, and now with the permission of the Guangzhou government can become an alternative to identity verification through a virtual ID-card. But unlike the Chinese project, Durova's cryptocool should be decentralized and independent of governments. While none of the messengers managed to create an effective system of internal payments beyond the control of regulators, the founder of SingularityU in Russia, Jean Kolesnikov: "Durov has a chance to become the first."
White Paper even stipulates that from 2021 the creator of Telegram will gradually move away from the management of the platform, transferring this function to the TON Foundation, which will change its name to The Open Foundation. Thus, the system already even planned to get out of control and the founder himself.
How much gram
"Starting capital of trust in Durov is greater than that of Buterin at the time of the launch of the broadcast. I think Durov deserved this trust and can compete for the right to create one of the three largest crypto-currencies, "Solonin said. And although Durov did not officially confirm or deny the potential ICO, the identity of the founder adds value to the project.
Founder of Frontier Ventures Dmitry Alimov, having talked with several potential investors of ICO Telegram, who want to invest tens of millions of dollars in the project (a contribution exceeds $ 20 million), realized that many of them did not even analyze the technology or the White Paper ICO. They simply believe that Durov will do something interesting. "It's more like playing in a casino or religious faith," Alimov argues.
At the same time, judging by the demand for tokens, there are a lot of such investors, therefore, perhaps this ICO will go down in history as the largest capital attraction for a project that is in the seeding stage. According to preliminary forecasts, pre-ICO TON fees will amount to $ 600 million to $ 850 million. The whole project hopes to attract $ 1.2 billion to $ 3 billion, and this is an absolute record: no one has managed to collect more than $ 250 million for ICO.
TON plans to issue 5 billion Gram cryptonet with an inflation of 2% per year, which will be used to pay for functions and applications implemented on the platform. 44% of the issue will be sold to investors during the ICO, 4% will go to developers, 52% will remain in stock.
If ICO TON passes at the lower end of the range, the entire future Durova cash and power network can be estimated at at least $ 2.7 billion. Now the project is de facto at the seed stage, and it is proposed to invest by a billion estimate, as if the company has already built a large successful business and became public, warns Alimov. But the messengers, which have become public companies, can cost significantly more - $ 2.7 billion.
In 2016, the Line messenger with an audience of 218 million was valued at an IPO of $ 8.6 billion ($ 39 per user with monthly activity). The advantage of Line was a good monetization: the service was selling stickers. In 2017 IPO conducted Snapchat, its capitalization was $ 24 billion with 100 million active users ($ 240 per user!). By early February 2018, the value of the company had fallen to $ 16.7 billion, but on the whole it is highly valued because of the high proportion of the youth audience, which will become solvent in the near future.
Telegram has some problems with the audience. According to the App Annie study, the largest increase in Telegram in 2017 was due to Russia, India and Brazil - developing countries with lower solvency than the US and Western Europe. True, notes managing partner of Runa Capital Dmitry Chikhachev, after the news about ICO, the share of English-speaking users began to grow dramatically: if earlier in the contacts of his messenger were added on average 1-2 people a week and mostly Russian, now - 1-2 per day, and Foreigners.
Another problem: the messenger is not monetized. It seems that the goal of ICO is not only the creation of a new block-project, but also the provision of financing to the company's core business, Alimov argues. While Telegram does not have revenue, Durov and the team have to independently finance the company's expenses, which, according to White Paper, have already reached $ 70 million per year. With the involvement of new users and the development of the platform after the ICO, the total infrastructure costs will amount to $ 400 million in the next three years.
In the mass consciousness, Telegram remains the safest messenger, the AKIT president Alexei Fedorov explains. According to his estimate, the cost per user is about $ 30, which is less than WhatsApp, and more than Viber ($ 3 per user when it is sold to Rakuten in 2014), which is losing its audience due to instability in work and obsessive advertising.
According to Vinogradov from Runa Capital, Telegram with an audience of over 100 million people can cost $ 3 billion, and in view of the audience's assessment in White Paper (200 million users in the first quarter of 2018) and a discount of 35-60% for the regional portrait of the audience, even up to $ 5 billion The founder and managing partner of Almaz Capital Alexander Galitsky believes that the geography of the audience Telegram is similar to Viber, so the estimate is no more than $ 2-3 billion.
Any outcome, other than Telegram's great success, will result in a loss of investment. "For traditional venture investors such a risk-return ratio does not look attractive, and we do not plan to take part in this ICO," Alimov said. Judging by the dynamics of the messenger market, none of them keeps at the top for more than five years, Fedorov said: "Today, any purchase of a messenger worth between $ 3-5 billion is an investment in future losses." However, this messenger can become important, but only a small part of the third significant reincarnation of the blockade.
Investors in this ICO should take into account that the created Telegram platform will compete with existing ones such as Ethereum, which already has tens of millions of users and support among developers and the ecosystem of the market, as well as with dozens of start-ups trying to implement those or other elements of the announced Telegram strategy. "Assuming that these market players will surrender without a fight, it would be too optimistic," warns Alimov.
Durov is able to implement this bold project, given his previous successes, I'm sure Kolesnikov. The problem is different: the development of Telegram can be prevented not by technological aspects. In the future, with the full implementation of Block 3.0, Durov may again face difficulties with regulators. In any conflict, the authorities will try to block the platform (which has already happened with Telegram in Iran). But for this, the TON ecosystem provides a "cure" - its own VPN application.
"We can also compete with Visa and Mastercard," Solonin argues. But the outcome of confrontation with the world's payment systems largely depends on local laws, on how regulators will behave: whether they decide on something or will like now - then allow or prohibit. While in many countries, transactions with crypto-currencies are limited. "Decision-making and the spread of TON-based services on a scale comparable to Visa and Mastercard will take ten years," says Solonin.
Fast results are not promised either by the authors of White Paper or by experts, but the idea of a new blockbuster turned out to be so attractive that even a former friend of Durots, Anton Rosenberg, despite the old grievances, collects requests for repurchase of TON tokens after ICO in his Facebook account. Pavel Durov did not respond to the Forbes request.