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October 28 2013

15:33
VKontakte's Pavel Durov Explains Bizarre Money-Throwing Incident
It was a seemingly tasteless stunt that caught headlines around the globe for Pavel Durov, the founder of Russia’s biggest social network, VKontakte. Cameras caught him throwing paper planes made out of 5,000 Russian ruble notes (worth about $157 each in U.S. dollars) from his office windows high above St. Petersburg streets last year. Eventually, a fight broke out as he and another colleague watched below. They stopped at the brawl turned ugly. So what the hell was he thinking? Durov explained the backstory behind the bizarre incident on-stage today in a surprise interview at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. “This is one of the funniest moments in the history of our company,” he said. They were bestowing a big bonus on a friend and vice president at the company. “We began to congratulate him: ‘You’re a rich guy now.’” Durov said. Durov said the vice president replied, “I don’t work for money. Money is completely not important to me. The idea is what’s important to me.” Durov responded back, “Look, if the it’s only the idea that’s important, why don’t you throw away the money? Get rid of it.” The vice president started to throw the bonus cash out the window, when Durov stopped him. He said, “Don’t throw your money from the window like that. You have to do it in a creative way.” Durov started showing him how to fold paper planes out of the bills, and they began tossing them out on the street. It ended up being about $4,000 to $5,000 in ruble bills. “Unfortunately, people at some point started to fight for the money and we stopped our actions, of course,” he said. Co-editor Alexia Tsotsis asked him what it taught him about human nature. “Not everybody’s actions are based on ideas. Some people’s actions are based on profit,” he said. “These people on the street clearly showed us that we are pretty much different from the guys downstairs.” Coincidentally, the paper plane is now the new logo of Durov’s next project, a super-encrypted messaging app called Telegram. The connection between the two was just incidental at first, he says. “I think it was a couple months ago when we came up with it. It came unintentionally. We just loved the idea of paper planes,” he said. “At first, it wasn’t really related to the paper plane event. But then we realized there was a
14:49
Vkontakte's Pavel Durov: “Big Brother”-Like Surveillance Can Be Conquered By Technology
Pavel Durov, the creator of Russia’s biggest social network VKontakte, is more than a little familiar with government surveillance. On a prep call for a surprise appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin today, he joked with co-editor Alexia Tsotsis to say “Hi” to government agents that he thought were listening on the call.  His home and VKontakte’s offices were also both searched amid an investigation into a traffic incident that Durov has denied involvement in. The Russian government recently ended the investigation, without finding any wrongdoing. That was perhaps one of the motivations for him to create Telegram, a new messaging app that he says is resistant to spying by companies and governments alike. “We don’t have anything to show the government, because the encryption keys are generated on the device and exchanged purely between the devices, using difficult algorithms,” he said. “The server doesn’t really know what is content is being created.” Telegram is based on a custom data protocol called MTProto built by Pavel’s brother Nikolai Durov, a mathematician. The app’s secret chats, a separate feature from its ordinary chats, use end-to-end encryption. They cannot be forwarded and can be set to self-destruct after a certain amount of time. One key difference between Telegram’s secret and ordinary chats is that secret chats are not stored in the app’s cloud, which means you can only access messages from their device of origin. “The global threat of ‘Big Brother’ can actually be conquered purely by technology,” he said. Durov was, of course, critical of recent reports that the U.S.’s National Security Agency has tapped into the phone calls or online communications of both U.S. citizens and foreign heads of state. “I think the big difference between most countries and the U.S., is that governments are more straightforward now about their intentions to gather information on private communications,” he said. His new app is part of a non-profit, instead of a for-profit or venture-backed enterprise. Durov said he chose this route because he wants to earn users’ trust. “I hope some people will find this product useful and feel more safe,” he said.
04:15
Meet Telegram, A Secure Messaging App From The Founders Of VK, Russia's Largest Social Network
Created by the founders of Russia's biggest social networking platform, Telegram is a new messaging app that offers speed, security and features such as secret chats with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.
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