Russian IT tycoon dies at 40

On Saturday, July 22, at the age of 40, the founder of the esports organization ESforce and the head of ICS Holding, a well-known technology entrepreneur Anton Cherepennikov, died suddenly.
The preliminary cause of death of a businessman in ICS Holding was called cardiac arrest. What kind of business did Cherepennikov manage to build and how did he remember the industry?

eSports of the highest achievements

Anton Cherepennikov was born in Moscow on May 7, 1983. He studied at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University at the Department of Information Security, but did not finish his studies there. Cherepennikov received his higher education a little later: in 2005 he graduated from the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering. Since childhood, he was fond of video games and participated in professional eSports tournaments. This passion of his later grew into a big business.

But before, back in the late 2000s, Anton Cherepennikov managed to go into business in the field of SORM (“system of operational-search activities”), which became his second passion and life's work. In 2005, he opened the telecom company Za Telekom, which imported Blackberry phones and also installed secure wireless access to e-mail and corporate resources. In parallel, Za Telekom developed software to meet the requirements of government agencies, but the entrepreneur preferred not to expand on this topic.

In April 2011, Cherepennikov, himself an active gamer and fan of computer games, revived the cybersport company on the basis of the Iron Will club: by that time, the club had taken a break and froze all the rosters. “Back in the late 1990s, he participated in Quake tournaments, and a little later he took up the management of such teams as team1 and forZe,” says his profile on the profile resource — As a player, Anton played for several months in Iron Will side by side with players and has bronze medals from WCG Russia. In 2010, together with Alexei Kolesnikov, he revived, first as a Counter-Strike 1.6 team, and later as a multi-gaming organization.

A few years later, in 2015, together with the owner of the Navi club, Alexander Kokhanovsky, Cherepennikov created the ESforce esports holding, which also includes the club, on the basis of which ESforce was formed. A little earlier, the USM holding of billionaire Alisher Usmanov became interested in the project, which in the same 2015 invested $100 million in In early 2018, Alisher Usmanov’s Mail.Ru Group (now VK) bought ESforce for $100 million.

In 2015, Anton Cherepennikov acquired Malvin Systems and merged it with Osnova Lab into the Citadel group, which developed software in the field of information security and SORM. Against the background of the entry into force of the Yarovaya Law, Anton Cherepennikov's Citadel occupied from 60% to 80% of the wiretapping market in a number of projects.

In 2016, he created the Forpost company, which was engaged in system integration, and also acquired MFI Soft - the deal amounted to more than 10 billion rubles, the money for it was lent to Cherepennikov by USM Group structures.

In 2017, Cherepennikov opened the largest esports stadium in Europe, Yota Arena, in Moscow.

X task

In 2018, Cherepennikov founded ICS Holding, combining his assets in the field of information technology: Citadel SORM developer, Forpost system integrator, Peter-Service billing system developer, Kryptonit information security solutions provider and other structures. Now ICS Holding unites companies that are engaged, among other things, in the supply of IT information security systems for the implementation of the Yarovaya Law, as well as scientific research, production and investment. Among them is also the manufacturer of servers "KNS Group" (brand Yadro), the developer of the satellite constellation "Bureau 1440", etc.

In 2020, Alisher Usmanov's USM acquired 100% of ICS Holding, and Cherepennikov received a 10% stake in USM Telecom, which, in addition to IT assets, includes Megafon (the businessman also served on the board of directors of Megafon). From 2020-2022 served as COO of USM Telecom. In March 2022, after Alisher Usmanov fell under sanctions, USM closed the deal to resell ICS Holding and its assets to Cherepennikov.

At the end of February 2023, Cherepennikov, together with ICS Holding, was included in the US sanctions list.

In July, it became known that the analytical company Trust Technologies (the former Russian division of PwC) estimated the investment value of ICS Holding at about 300 billion rubles. Holding debut bond offering and possible initial public offering (IPO) in 2024.

Cherepennikov was included in the Forbes rating of Russians with the highest dividend income for 2022, the entrepreneur ranked 22nd in it. At the end of 2019, he took 4th place in the list of the most influential esports entrepreneurs in the post-Soviet space according to Forbes.

In December 2021, ICS Holding opened the Museum of Cryptography, the first scientific and technological museum in Russia dedicated to mathematics, cryptography and new technologies. “The exposition tells about the past, present and future of cryptography, about the history of the development of communication between people from ancient times to the present,” follows from the description on the ICS Holding website.

Cherepennikov was ranked 22nd in the Forbes ranking of the 50 Russians with the highest dividend income for 2022. Its dividend income for 2022, according to Forbes, amounted to 13.3 billion rubles.

According to the Base, the body of 40-year-old Cherepennikov was found at night from Friday to Saturday in his office on Michurinsky Prospekt. The preliminary cause of death is cardiac arrest.

What co-workers say

“A talented young businessman, very clear and knowledgeable. He understood the prospects of both his business and competitors well, - Alexander Kalinin, co-founder and general designer of SMI-Holding JSC, told Forbes. “Achieved a lot in a short period of time.”

Cherepennikov's colleagues interviewed by Forbes do not hide the fact that his death was a complete surprise, and for the industry - a real loss. “Anton was very bright, strong and courageous. Of course, he was one of the locomotives of our industry, for which this is a huge loss. For the entire market, for the country,” says Aleksey Kalinin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aquarius Group of Companies. - The most sincere condolences to Anton's family, relatives, friends, team. Irreparable loss. It was impossible to imagine such a thing." In the electronics industry, Anton Cherepennikov's company has repeatedly raised the stakes in the competition for leadership and the scale of projects by an order of magnitude, says Ivan Pokrovsky, executive director of the Association of Electronics Developers and Manufacturers (ARPE). According to him, this influenced many other major players and investors, motivated them, greatly cheered up the entire industry.

“Anton is a super-energetic, super-ambitious, unrealistically brave entrepreneur who was able to gather a unique team of engineers and developers around him,” said Maksut Shadayev, head of the Ministry of Digital Development. According to the minister, under the leadership of Cherepennikov, ICS Holding became one of the largest technology companies in the country: “Anton created broadband access satellites (broadband access. - Forbes) for low orbit, developed base stations, built a production of Russian servers, data storage systems and tablets that is unique in scale. It was thanks to Anton’s active position and the success of his company that the industry grew rapidly.”

Anton Cherepennikov became one of those people who determined the main trends in the IT industry of the new time, worked on real import substitution and import independence, says Aleksey Melnikov, managing partner of F + tech-Marvel Group. Cherepennikov was a "visionary and strategist" who created a large efficient business, assembled a bright strong team capable of solving problems of varying complexity, Melnikov continues: "For all the time that we have been cooperating and competing in the same market with ICS Holding companies, he has always given the impression of a principled, decent and decisive person."