Facebook announced today the company will accept a $200 million investment from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies. A couple hundred million nets Digital Sky just under two percent equity in Facebook at a $10 billion valuation.
Other companies with similar offers in recent weeks were rejected by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, primarily because Zuckerberg did not wish to lose control of the board of directors. Zuckerberg currently holds one seat and one empty one to secure control of the company.
Digital Sky agreed it would not be represented on the Facebook board or hold special observer rights. Half of the investment will be used to facilitate liquidity for current and former employees’ vested shares.
“A number of firms approached us,” said Zuckerberg, “but DST stood out because of the global perspective they bring – backed up by the impressive growth and financial achievements of their internet investments.” The CEO noted 70 percent of Facebook’s 225 million members reside outside the United States.
“Our investment experience in other regions reveals the tremendous value social networking companies create as they redefine how people communicate and interact,” said DST CEO Yuri Milner. “By every important metric – user growth and engagement, technological innovation and financial performance – Facebook is on a similar trajectory, though on a much more global scale. "Milner has a habit of being profiled about once every ten years, which appears to be the rate at which he garners international attention, and the rate at which international catastrophe hits. His first appearance was in 1990 as the first Soviet student to attend the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Milner credited Gorbachev’s perestroika program for allowing him the opportunity and planned to take American style capitalism back to the USSR.
Milner said he wanted to be “like a bridge” between the US and the USSR’s developing market. Ten years later, in 2000, Milner’s Netbridge was featured in the Financial Times, hoping to generate $100,000 a month for his new company. Fast forward to 2009, and Milner is swinging $200 million no-strings-attached investments at a popular social network run by the new golden child of digital business.
Not bad for the kid from perestroika, eh?
If you’re cynical enough, you might have notice every time Milner shows up in the press, catastrophic events seem to happen simultaneously: the USSR collapsed in 1991; the Dotcom Bubble burst in 2000; and now a Facebook investor in the age of the US financial system collapse. Wonder what systemic panic Milner accompany in 2020?