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Telegram Ponders IPO as It Approaches Profitability


The owner of messaging app Telegram is reportedly considering taking the company public.

In an interview with the Financial Times posted Tuesday (March 12), Pavel Durov said that his Dubai-based platform has 900 million users, and is making “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenues thanks to advertising and premium subscription services.

“We are hoping to become profitable next year, if not this year,” he told the FT in what was called his first public interview since 2017.

Russian-born Durov, who owns 100% of Telegram, said the company had “been offered $30 billion-plus valuations” from potential investors that include “global late-stage tech funds.” However, the company has no plans to sell while it weighs a possible initial public offering (IPO).

“The main reason why we started to monetise is because we wanted to remain independent,” he said. “Generally speaking, we see value in [an IPO] as a means to democratize access to Telegram’s value.”

The FT report notes that Telegram has stretched beyond its origins as a place for cryptocurrency enthusiasts to become an important communication tool for governments and a lifeline to people living in conflict zones.

However, the news outlet adds, researchers have warned that Telegram is rife with criminal activity and extremist/terrorist content and information. Critics have also suggested that the Russian government could have links to the platform, which Durov said is “inaccurate.”

Telegram introduced paid subscriptions in 2022, with Durov saying the program — dubbed Telegram Premium — would give its subscribers a higher limit for chats and file and media uploads.

“The only way to let our most demanding fans get more while keeping our existing features free is to make those raised limits a paid option,” Durov wrote on the company blog.

The company’s IPO plans come as another social platform, Reddit, is also preparing to go public, targeting a valuation of $6.5 billion as it aims to raise around $750 million.

Reddit had tried to go public in 2021 but delayed that effort due to a lack of profitability, PYMNTS reported last May.

However, the social media platform said it reached that milestone last year, logging a 20% increase in revenue for the year 2023 versus the previous year.