Russian Facebook founder steps down, rescinds resignation
The CEO of the "Facebook of Russia" has been busy lately, announcing that he would be stepping down from his position, only to rescind the statement two days later.
Social media offers numerous capabilities in both the social and business sphere. Individuals can communicate and discuss various topics online, while also using the tool to arrange social gatherings outside of cyberspace. For businesses, it provides another place where brands can interact with their customer base, and take on new business.
These capabilities are certainly strong and found in almost every country that has a connected population. Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular social media outlets in the world today, but in some countries, their usage is more limited. Instead, other popular applications have arose in their place. In China, the Internet is heavily regulated, with both Facebook and Twitter blocked. However, this has lead to the emergence of Sina Weibo, which is one of the most widely used website in the world's most populous country.
In Russia, another social media outlet, akin to Facebook, is one of the most popular social media outlets in the country. Russia is another country that operates in an online environment that is rather restricted when it comes to online freedoms, though Facebook is allowed to be used in the country.
On April 1, Pavel Durov, the founder and CEO of Vkontakte (considered the Russian equivalent of Facebook) announced that he would be stepping down from his position as CEO of the company. However, just 2 days later, he announced that he will be taking up his position again.
These recent actions have been the cause of much speculation, given the economic climate in which he operates. Tech Crunch reported that he posted a tongue-in-cheek note on his page when he announced that he would be stepping down.
"Congratulations to those who decided that I should really voluntarily resign," the post read, according to the news source. Accompanying the post was a picture of the popular Doge meme.
However, just two days after his resignation, Durov rescinded this announcement.
Speculation surrounding move
There has been some speculation as to why Durov decided to initially step down, and retake his position. TechCrunch noted that the ownership of the company has shifted hands a few times. At the moment, the company is owned by United Capital Partners and the Russian Internet giant Mail.ru. Mail.ru owns about 52 percent of the company, having picked up another 12 percent in March from the head of Megafon.
What is interesting about that 12 percent ownership is that it represents Durov's share of the company, which he had sold to the Megafon head in January.
TechCrunch speculated that part of his decision to step down may have come from the fact that Durov and his shareholders do not see eye to eye when it comes to freedom of speech issues and as a result of other business decisions as well.
The former issue has been growing increasingly pressing, especially as the Kremlin continues to push laws that limit freedom of speech both online and in the public sphere. One of the most notable is the Internet black list, which allows the government to block IP addresses that it feels should not be accessed. Typically this includes websites that are critical of the government. The news source reported that he took the position back up because it created risk that the company did not want to take on at the moment.
Forbes recently reported that these limiting Russian Internet policies could have negative effects on the economy. One of the reasons was because they would hurt investor confidence by generating uncertainty and risk. While the ends of these recent actions are yet to be realized, this issue could soon be coming to the forefront.