At the age of just 28, Vk(V Kontakte) founder Pavel Durov has become one of Russia’s youngest millionaires, worth an estimated $260 million, but not without a lot of controversy. Vk seems to borrow many of it’s social networking ideas from Facebook, but it’s the amount of copyrighted material not posted by the copyright owners for promotional purposes that seems to be angering a lot of international copyright owners of music and movies. The site seems to involve not only the characteristics of Facebook, but also of Pirate Bay as well. Some entertainment industry figures complain that Durov is a rebel capitalist who is much like some anarchist who actively supports piracy of copyrighted materials on his Vk site, doing little to stop the transfer of films or music which other sites will quickly remove once a complaint is issued like YouTube does. But, Russian courts have continued to rule largely in favor of Vk, not holding the site responsible for user abuses of copyrighted material.
But, to the 200 million users of Vk, Durov is viewed much like the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia. He is viewed as one of the greatest young Russian success stories, creating the Russian version of Facebook that has great success not only in Russia, but in other parts of Europe as well as Israel. Vk has only existed since 2006, and has witnessed amazing growth. Durov and some close friends and family members still own a large portion of the company stock, although three Russian-Jewish investors also now own a large stake in the rapidly growing company.
Many movie and music producers continue to be critics of Vk, while others just realize it’s power to advertise to millions of potential customers, and instead of being critical choose to post some material to promote their works. This leads to a complex maze of millions of items on Vk, some authorized and some not, much like YouTube and many other sites face.
But, Vk looks here to stay And it only seems wise for many in the music and movie industry to try to get the most out of the site for themselves, while trying to limit their financial losses from unauthorized content versions of their works. Offsetting the positive financial gains against the losses seems the only way. You can’t stop a rolling train it seems, it just has too much momentum behind it.
Pavel Durov, despite all of the controversy probably best represents the new wave of young Russian millionaires.