According to experts, it is extremely difficult to restore an Internet license in China. However, as the head of Dakaitaowa said, the problem is not so much in the blocking as in the prospects of the project, which was opened with fanfare in 2016: it was curtailed due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus.
The trading platform belongs to the Russian Export company, it was founded by Igor Chaika, the son of the ex-Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation (now Yuri Chaika is the presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District). Chaika Jr. got rid of his stake in the company a month ago, and now it turned out that she had problems, and it is not clear how to repay debts: the organization has mastered state loans from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) for hundreds of millions of rubles.
Plug for "matryoshka"
As you know, foreigners enter the Chinese segment of the Internet with a pass. The so-called ICP (Internet Content Provider) license is issued to Chinese residents - legal entities and citizens. The license itself is free, issued through a local hosting provider.
The Dakaitaowa.com Internet license was issued to a company with Russian shareholding First Russian Cross-Border International Trading Ltd (Shanghai), and now on the dakaitaowa.com home page there is a stub with brief explanations of the license revocation in Chinese and English. Possible reasons include technical and other inconsistencies in the original license application, incomplete application, or content on the site that is prohibited from distribution.
The name of the platform is translated from Chinese as "open the matryoshka", and it flaunted on the logo.
The initiative to create a "Russian Alibaba" - an analogue of the Chinese wholesale platform alibaba.com (owns Aliexpress) - is attributed to Chechen businessman Ruslan Baysarov, who at the end of 2015 sent a letter to Vladimir Putin and promised to invest tens of billions of rubles in the project himself, but did not invest. The President liked the idea itself; in his message to parliament, he mentioned that the largest private Russian companies should act as an export platform. In the spring of 2016, the government also decided that the state would not directly deal with this, but it would be able to support such projects.
“Our development plans envisage an increase in the range of supplied products to several thousand units within four to five years, as well as the opening of sales offices in all major cities of the PRC and the supply of Russian products to major retail chains. We will continue to build awareness of the Dakaitaowa.com brand. ”
The role of "Russian Alibaba" was then mentally tried on by many Russian Internet retailers (as well as Yandex and Sberbank), but no one ventured into large investments. But there was a project that found government investment - Dakaitaowa (LLC "Russian Export"), the son of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. It was planned that the site will provide Chinese residents with high-quality food products from Russia, it was aimed at both B2B and consumer (B2C) segments.
Now the project, apparently, is under the jurisdiction of Moscow region officials
The startup received funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund. It was reported that the state fund allocated 300 million rubles of a convertible (25% share) loan.
"The fund expects the company's business to grow at least three to five times in the next five years," said a representative of the RDIF. According to the Kontur.Fokus database, since 2018, the shares of all owners of Russian Export have been pledged to a subsidiary of RDIF - RDIF Investment Management-4. RDIF did not tell Octagon whether they intend to return the money invested and how much money was invested in Dakaitaowa.
Meanwhile, the accumulated net loss of Russian Export for 2016–2019 amounts to 315 million rubles, it was possible to bail out 168.8 million rubles.
It is known that in September 2020, Igor Chaika transferred his stake of 41 percent in Russian Export to the adviser to the governor of the Moscow region on a voluntary basis, Artyom Semyonov. The close ties of Moscow Region officials with the project is also evidenced by a photograph taken in April 2016 at a Chinese business forum - the then Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region Dmitry Stepanenko wrote in his Instagram that with Chaika he was “exploring new sales markets for Russian manufacturers food products ". It is also worth noting that Igor Chaika's "garbage" project, the "Charter" company, is cooperating with the Moscow Region authorities.
Artyom Semyonov is the chief assistant to the governor of the Moscow Region Andrei Vorobyov in the Chinese direction, now he owns a 65.5 percent stake in Russian Export, 24.5 percent - from the director of Dakaitaowa in China, co-founder of the project Anna Barysheva and 10 percent - from the general director Oleg Dmitrienko. The latter reported in 2018 that Russian Export is using a credit line from Roseximbank for 100 million rubles, in addition, the founders have invested $ 5 million in the company.
As a result, unfortunately, the "first Russian Alibaba" was closed. Now the project is awaiting a change of format, Dmitrienko told Octagon.
- Now we will reorganize our activities and slightly change the direction. The closure of the project is not due to the departure of Chaika, but to a greater extent with the coronavirus pandemic. This significantly influenced our activities, - says Oleg Dmitrienko.
He did not explain the reasons for blocking Dakaitaowa.com, but noted that the site (previously indicated as a corporate site) simply did not have hosting fees, since the Russian site “was not really needed in principle: we didn’t sell anything in Russia”. The Chinese business card site about "Russian Alibaba" (dakaitaowa.cn) continues to work, but it was last updated in 2016.
Dmitrienko has negative experience in managing business projects. Previously, he was Deputy Chairman of PJSC M2M Private Bank, whose head Andrei Vdovin fled the Russian Federation in 2018 due to charges of embezzlement and withdrawal of funds totaling $ 13 million.
The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow ruled to arrest the businessman in absentia. Vdovin denies all charges. Dmitrienko, as follows from the documents of the Deposit Insurance Agency, among other persons controlling the bank, was brought to subsidiary liability in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Law "On Insolvency (Bankruptcy)".
Margin on Matryoshka - hundreds of percent
One of the leaders of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Maxim Spassky, believes that the "Russian Alibaba" had little chance.
“People who hear about China for the first time think in terms of“ 1.5 billion buyers who are ready to buy any product ”, but they forget that this market is highly competitive. The funds allocated for its conquest look quite large in our country, but in China they dissolve and go nowhere. A myth is created in the media that the local market is limitless, it will accept anyone and it is easy to enter it. Everyone needs stories of how easy it is to conquer China. The hopes of a huge number of entrepreneurs about this have been dashed for a long time. As for Dakaitaowa.com, it's no surprise that it didn't start. As a rule, such projects are "brought in" by close people who are trusted. And they have little to do with the economy. The people who launched the project earned their money, but the investors lost it, - the expert shared.
Russia has only a dozen examples of successful positioning of its products in the PRC. Moreover, this is not due to the efforts of domestic marketers, but rather to the support from Chinese partners - that is, local firms interested in importing certain goods, Spassky noted.
The price level for Dakaitaowa is also worth noting. Russian goods were exhibited on the “shelves” of the platform at a price several times higher than in retail stores at home, as can be seen from the archived versions of the site.
A clear comparison of the price level of Dakaitaowa and Russian retail on the example of "Hercules": the price range of a product in Russia is from 70 to 140 rubles, for Dakaitaowa - from 407 to 454 rubles (at the Central Bank rate).
Some oddities in the work of the store were noted initially. The RBC agency in 2016 indicated that among the most popular searches for alleged Chinese consumers on Dakaitaowa are “refrigerator”, “TV” and “washing machine”. According to Oleg Dmitrienko, he is already negotiating the merger of Dakaitaowa with one of the Chinese firms. “There will be a similar project,” the source said.