Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov revealed that $850 Mln had been raised during the Telegram Open Network (TON) private investment period in a notice to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the investment on February 13.
Durov, who also founded Russia’ most popular social network VK, filed a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities with the SEC, reporting that his TON project had raised $850 Mln from 81 investors under SEC exemption rule 506(c). The exemption rule allows Telegram to avoid reporting the initial coin offering (ICO) of its cryptocurrency to private investors, which took place from early January to early February, as a securities offering.
Hype has been building around Telegram’s ICO since late 2017, when a white paper about the TON project was leaked and circulated. Telegram’s new project aims to incorporate blockchain-based cryptocurrency payments and transfers for users of the messenger, similar to a project initiated by Japan’s Line messenger earlier this year. They also aim to offer third parties a new type of blockchain platform called TON, which they hope will rival Etherium.
Private investors were invited to participate in the initial sale of Telegram tokens from January to early February. The Telegram team has been tight-lipped about funds raised activity during the private investment period, and none of the investors were revealed in the SEC filing notice.
However, some revelations about investor identity and sums contributed have been forthcoming. According to Russian financial news media Vedomosti, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich invested the largest single sum to the project, contributing $300 Mln to TON. Representatives of Abramovich have thus far declined to comment on the alleged investment.
Sergey Solonin, co-founder and CEO of Qiwi, one of Russia’s largest electronic payment systems, announced that he personally invested in TON during comments at an investment forum in Sochi, Russia on February 16. A representative of Solonin later revealed that the exact sum was $17 Mln.
Solonin said that TON may potentially “provide solutions to lingering blockchain questions which remain unsolved.”
David Iakobashvili, a well-known Russian entrepreneur and financier, also announced that he invested into Telegram in an interview given to RBC media outlet. A co-founder of Wimm-Bill-Dann, a dairy and juice producer which was acquired by PepsiCo for $3.8 billion in 2010, Iakobashvili revealed that he had invested $10 Mln in personal funds during the private investment period in January.
Durov’s SEC filing notice comes just weeks before a potential public offering of Telegram tokens.