Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov is the creator and head of the social network Vkontakte (which means “In Touch”), and General Manager of the company of the same name.
Pavel Durov was born in Leningrad on 10 October 1984 into a family of intellectuals. His father, one of Russia’s most highly respected philologists, Doctor of Philology Valery Semenovich Durov, has authored a great number of academic works and studies. He currently serves as Chair of Classical Philology of the Philology Department of St. Petersburg State University.
Pavel’s brother, Candidate of Physics and Mathematics Nikolai Valerievich Durov, has won multiple awards at Russian and international mathematics and programming competitions. He currently serves as Director of Engineering of Vkontakte.
In 2001, Pavel graduated with honours from the Liberal Arts School of the Academic Gymnasium within St. Petersburg State University. The School offers in-depth education in all areas, including four foreign languages. The intensity of its program had meant that straight-A report cards were unheard of until Pavel changed that by graduating at the top of his class.
Later that year, Pavel enrolled in the Philology Department of St. Petersburg State University, majoring in English Philology and Translation. For his academic achievements and his contributions to the University’s student life, Pavel was awarded the Scholarship of the Government of the Russian Federation, and later – the Scholarship of the President of the Russian Federation. As a three-time laureate of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Fund Scholarship, he was among the select few St. Petersburg State University students with the highest IQ and leadership potential. He graduated with a Red Diploma (top honours) in 2006.
In 2005, Pavel completed his training at the Faculty of Military Studies of St. Petersburg State University with a specialization in Propaganda and Psychological Warfare. While training with the Faculty of Military Studies, he served as Platoon Commander of the Philology Department. Upon completion, he was awarded the title of Lieutenant of the Reserve Force.
While still in university, Pavel began putting together nonprofit Internet projects to boost the university’s social and academic life. Immediately after graduating in 2006, Pavel created the social network Vkontakte.ru.
The speed of the network’s growth broke all Russian Internet records. Today, Vkontakte is the most popular social network in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, with more than 150 million registered users and 33 million daily visitors.
Vkontakte provides financial support for Russia’s growing Programming Olympics movement, and sponsors programmer teams in St. Petersburg and Northwestern Russia.
The company’s in-house team has gathered Russia’s top programmers, winners of international mathematics and programming competitions, allowing Vkontakte to create a product that dominates the domestic market and can stand up to international competition.