The view from St Petersburg: Timothy Draper
RT:How important do you think this forum is for your company?
TD:“For our company it’s a mission.We are in the business of spreading entrepreneurship and venture capital wherever we go.I grew up in the Silicon Valley where it was just orchards of Apricots, and now it has grown into the centre of economic development.And I watched that grow and so I see actually how that can happen and try to build ecosystems.So I think this is very important, very exciting, and I love that all the people in Russia, all the government officials, and all the businesses are all trying to get together and make this thing happen.”
RT:Do you think the investment climate has improved in Russia and if so how do you find doing business?
TD:“Oh yes! I think the business climate has improved.It started from a bad place, I mean 75 years where and entrepreneur, it was illegal to be an entrepreneur in Russia, has to be overcome now.And now that Russia understands that they need to compete for the great minds, the capital and the businesses of the world, they are doing a very good job of it. Russia is full of brilliant minds, and I think those minds are going to start to really flourish in the years to come.”
RT:Now you have a history of investing in tech stocks and IPOs in that area, do you think that with Yandex having an IPO, and Mail.ru having an IPO, do you think that tech stocks are something that has a future in Russia?
TD:“Absolutely, I think this is a great time for Russia – both for the me too tech stocks like Yandex and Mail.ru, but also I think for companies that are started with real Russian technology, where Russian technology and entrepreneurs can spread to the rest of the world.Right now most of the big successes are copies of US developments, but I think there is a great future.”
RT:What investments are you looking at in Russia currently?
TD:“Well we actually have seen some meetings. A couple of Groupon knock offs and seen some new technologies that have come out of Russia that look very promising, that might turn into businesses.Right now they are technologies without a mission, but it looks like they might turn into some good businesses.We are quite happy with the entrepreneurial instinct that we have seen in Russia.”
RT:What other sectors would you consider people looking at in Russia?
TD:“Well, we’re right now, working on doing a deal with VTB bank and Rosnano to do a nanotech fund that will be focused on nanotech and other basic technologies, but then would turn into businesses.So that’s kind of what we are focused on while we are here.”