The encrypted messaging platform Telegram has already surpassed 800 million monthly active users and is growing by 2.5 million sign-ups every day, its founder Pavel Durov said on Tuesday.
“We are happy and grateful, even though this massive growth also means higher expenses on storage and traffic to serve our users,” Durov posted. “Luckily, Telegram is super efficient when it comes to expenses and we had a great start with monetization last year.”
Telegram hasn’t quite managed to become profitable just yet, but Durov said it was closer to that goal “in absolute numbers” than Twitter or Snapchat.
To help with financing, Telegram has issued around $270 million of bonds this week, with the help of “well-known funds with stellar reputations.” Durov noted that he invested “tens of millions” into the new bonds, on top of the hundreds of millions he spent on the platform over the past decade.
“Some people suggested I should have instead bought a house or a jet. But I prefer to stay focused on my work,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of people signed up for Telegram because they wanted an independent messaging platform that would put its users first. It is my responsibility – and my life’s work – to keep delivering this platform.”
The 2022 Forbes Billionaires List estimated Durov’s net worth at $11.5 billion. The St. Petersburg-born entrepreneur and his mathematician brother Nikolay also founded VK – Russia’s answer to Facebook – before developing Telegram in 2013.
The platform grew exponentially in 2022, after Meta-owned WhatsApp changed its privacy settings. It was in the top five downloaded applications worldwide, and accounted for almost 9% of mobile data traffic in Russia.
Durov himself left Russia in 2013 and has since obtained the citizenships of France and the United Arab Emirates. Telegram itself is registered as a limited-liability company in Dubai, but the location of its physical headquarters has not been made public.
Earlier this year, Norway moved to ban Telegram from government devices, citing concerns over its “Russian origins,” while a court in Brazil tried to ban the app on grounds that it refused to disclose information about alleged “neo-Nazi” accounts. The ban was quickly reversed, however.
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