Russian social networking website VK (VKontakte) is now ten years old. This social networking site was created by Pavel Durov and has had an interesting history as the company struggled with how much access the Russian government should have to its citizen's information. While barely known in the West, VK has 394 million users, 1 billion likes generated daily and 5 billion messages sent each day.
By focusing on the Russian-speaking market, VK managed to carve out a big niche. The site is more popular than Facebook in Russia and has more users than Twitter. Unfortunately, Pavel Durov saw himself forced to sell his shares in VK in 2014 and began a self-imposed exile from his home country.
While it’s universally referenced as the “Facebook of Russia,” VKontakte (that’s Russian for “in contact”) is a firm rich not only in technology — its users have access to messaging, news stories, communities, file-sharing, and a “like” button — but rich in story as well. The company’s history is colored by founder Pavel Durov’s tense relationship with the Russian government. Where tales of startup success usually revolve around money and growth, VK found itself having to answer the question of how much access a government should have to its citizens’ information.
For more details about the site's colorful history you can read this piece at Inverse. These days Pavel Durov and his brother Nikolai operate Telegram, an encrypted messaging app with 100 million monthly active users.