Telegram raises $270 million in bonds

Pavel Durov, Gründer von Telegram. © Techcrunch (CC-BY 2.0)
Pavel Durov, Founder from Telegram. © Techcrunch (CC-BY 2.0)

It wasn’t all that long ago that Telegram started monetizing: Ads, on the one hand, paid additional features for power users on the other. To date, however, the initiative launched at the end of 2021 has not managed to fund Telegram. That’s why money has to come from somewhere else, through bonds. Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov just announced this via his Telegram channel.

“Every day, more than 2.5 million new users sign up for Telegram, and earlier this year we surpassed 800 million monthly active users. We are happy and grateful, although this massive growth also means higher storage and bandwidth costs to serve our users,” said Durov. “To fund Telegram’s continued growth to break even, this week we issued approximately $270 million worth of Telegram bonds to top up our existing bonds. Once again we were lucky that well-known funds with an excellent reputation participated in the issue.”

A quarter of the bonds (i.e. around $70 million) will be bought by Durov himself, who says he has already invested “hundreds of millions” in Telegram over the past decade. “Well-known funds with an excellent reputation” are said to have bought the rest, but it is not known which they are. Telegram borrowing is an exciting path. In the current market situation, debt capital is moving towards debt capital because VCs and PEs are putting the brakes on equity. In the case of Telegram, it is unclear in any case which company investors would actually invest in.

ChatGPT hype captures Snapchat, WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger

“Some people suggested I should have instead bought a house or a jet”

Durov is the former founder of Vkontakte, the Russian Facebook, with his brother. The sale of Vkontakte (now made him a billionaire, the “Russian Mark Zuckerberg”. Forbes estimated his fortune at over $17 billion in 2021. “Some people suggested I should have instead bought a house or a jet,” Durov said. “But I prefer to stay focused on my work, without ‘owning’ anything (well, apart from Telegram, some Bitcoin and some Toncoin).”

Telegram has added over 300 million users in the last two and a half years and is heading towards 900 million users with a growth of 2.5 million new accounts per day. And that costs money, since the majority use the messaging app for free, and Telegram has to pay a lot of money for storage and traffic. “Although Telegram isn’t profitable yet (which would be impossible to achieve in its second year of monetization), in absolute terms it’s closer to profitability than its competitors like Twitter and Snap,” Durov said, jabbing at competitors.

The Toncoins mentioned are a cryptocurrency that circulates under the ticker TON and are intended to serve as a means of payment within the messaging app. TON now stands for “The Open Network” and is a – rather questionable – successor project to the failed GRAM token that Telegram wanted to introduce earlier. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) then put a spanner in the works. TON is now more likely to be located in the financially strong area between London, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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