Tasting the Eastern promise: Top 10 VC companies investing in Russia

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The growth of the internet in Russia to its current 60 million users, the strong technical background of Russian software engineers and the sound entrepreneurial skills of local managers have attracted major money to the market. According to various estimates, more than €300 million is expected to be invested in information technology companies in Russia in 2012. So who is opening their coffers to make this happen? Our guest blogger Yakov Sadchikov casts his eye over the biggest movers and shakers in the Russian VC scene…

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Ratmir TimashevABRT Venture Fund was launched by Andrey Baronov and Ratmir Timashev (left) who sold Aelita Software to Quest Software in 2004. Since then, ABRT has made more than 10 seed-stage investments in internet and software ventures in Russia. Ratmir and Andrey also teamed up to launch Veeam Software for virtual infrastructure management and data protection. Based in Moscow, ABRT is co-run by investment managers Nikolay Mitushin and Andrey Gershfeld. Mr. Mitushin is active in entrepreneur education via RIS Ventures. The investment portfolio of ABRT includes AcronisInvisibleCRMDrimmiHomeMe and Oktogo.ru.


mike calveyBaring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP), which has invested over $1.5 billion in companies in Russia, was an early backer of Yandex and OZON.ru. In 2000, BVCP invested in Yandex, valuing it at $15 million. In 2011, Yandex was valued at $8 billion at NASDAQ IPO. Headed by Michael Calvey and Elena Ivashentseva, BVCP recently invested in ER-Telecom (Dom.ru) and Russia’s leading software vendor 1C Company.


Mangrove Capital Partners

David WaroquierFounded by Mark Tluszcz, Gerard Lopez and Hans-Jürgen Schmitz in Luxembourg, Mangrove Capital Partners has made its first fortune by racking up $200 million from a $2 million investment in Skype. The partners of Mangrove do not only make VC investments but also support development projects in emerging markets via the Mangrove Foundation.

They are also active in sports: Gerard Lopez is the Chairman of the Lotus F1 Team and Marc Ingla is former Vice Chairman of Football Club Barcelona. In 2006, Mangrove Capital made a foray into Russia where it aimed to be the first institutional investor. With Mangrove‘s Russian portfolio run by partner David Waroquier (left), its investment strategy is set to pay off big for such investees as e-commerce group KupiVIP and online hotel booking service Oktogo.ru.

Intel Capital

Igor TaberManaged by Igor Taber (left) in Russia, Intel Capital has backed mobile application services of personal assistant Speaktoit and geo-social community AlterGeo. In e-commerce, Intel Capital invested in KupiVIP and Sapato (merged into OZON.ru). Intel Capital is also an investor in Rock Flow DynamicsInfiNet Wireless and DeNovo.



Insight Venture Partners

scott maxwellBased in New York, Insight Venture Partners has invested in Acronis, Parallels and Aelita Software. Insight also recently acquired stakes in online markeplace B2B-Center and financial services provider MICEX Group. The former Managing Director at Insight who was in charge of Acronis and Aelita deals, Scott Maxwell (left) has launched OpenView Venture Partners in Boston. OpenView has yet to make an investment in Russia.


Damian DobersteinBacked by Otto Group of Germany, e.ventures invests mostly in e-commerce companies. Active in Russia from 2009, e.ventures financed local ventures with copycat business models such as Darberry (merged into Groupon) and online shoes store Sapato. The Moscow-based office of e.ventures is managed by Damian Doberstein who previously co-founded KupiVIP.


Runa Capital

Serguei Beloussov Launched by Parallels and Acronis founders Serguei Beloussov (left) and Ilya Zubarev as well as by Dmitry Chikhachev, the venture firm Runa Capital invests between $0.1 million and $10 million in internet and software companies with global ambitions from a seed to growth stage. Out of 12 investee companies on its corporate website, only one focuses purely on the Russian-speaking market. 

Runa‘s notable investments included NginxJelasticThinkGrid and Talkbits. Backed by European private investors Andreas Gauger, Achim Weiss and Oleg Tscheltzoff, among others, Runa Capital aims to make disruptive investments in cloud computing and innovative mobile apps.


Leonid BoguslavskyFounded by Leonid Boguslavsky, ru-Net is one of the oldest venture capital investors in Russian internet companies. Being a stake holder in both Yandex and OZON.ru, Leonid invests globally. Apart from Russia, ru-Net invested in Vietnam, India and Turkey. In the U.S., it operates as RTP Ventures managed by Kirill Sheynkman.



S-Group Ventures

Vladimir YakushevManaged by S-Group Capital Management, S-Group Ventures is headed by Vladimir Yakushev. Funded by the Russian Venture Company and S-Group, S-Group Ventures has invested in Bisant, Sonda Technologies and Vocord. One of its investee companies, Competentum is a leading e-learning software solutions provider.



VTB Capital

Aidar Kaliev


VTB Capital Venture Capital (VTB Capital’s venture business) is managed by Aidar Kaliev (left) and Victor Belogub. VTB Capital is the investment business of VTB Group. VTB Capital’s venture business has invested in AiHit and Mobi.Money. It is also an investor in the Russian Navigation Technologies (Autotracker), which has completed Russia’s first venture-backed IPO.

In 2012, VTB Capital’s venture business began investing in the internet industry, including online business incubator Fast Lane Ventures, social network FamilySpace and online travel company Oktogo.ru.

For related reading, check out:

Russia’s Fast Lane Ventures – talking copycats and stereotypes with CEO Marina Treshchova

The Top 10 Russian internet brands out to conquer the world