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Telegram Nears a Billion Users, IPO on the Horizon?

Last Updated March 12, 2024 9:19 AM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated March 12, 2024 9:19 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Telegram’s user base has exploded, reaching 900 million monthly active users.
  • The company is nearing profitability and considering an IPO.
  • This potential listing could be a major event, similar to Reddit’s recent IPO.Β 

Telegram has achieved a milestone with 900 million users, edging closer to profitability. Founder Pavel Durov is contemplating a potential stock market listing, likely on Wall Street.

Durov, often dubbed “the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia,” anticipates  the messaging company will become profitable next year. With Reddit’s impending IPO capturing investor attention, this prospective listing could also draw significant interest.

Telegram Hits 900 Million Users

Telegram‘s monthly active users have surged from 500 million in early 2021 to 900 million. Owner Pavel Durov revealed valuation offers surpassing $30 billion from investors, but he remains steadfast in rejecting sales, aiming for an independent future with a potential IPO.

Despite its roots in the cryptocurrency community, Telegram’s rapid growth and limited staff have led to concerns about its role in facilitating criminal activity and spreading extremist content, contrasting with its utility for global communication and safety in conflict zonesCritics have also speculated about possible ties or influence from the Kremlin over Telegram, an allegation Durov has dismissed as “inaccurate.”

WhatsApp, a messaging competitor owned by Meta, boasts 1.8 billion monthly active users, whereas the encrypted communications app Signal had 30 million users as of February 2024, according to Sensor Tower analysis. It’s worth noting that this data specifically relates to mobile app usage.

IPO On The Horizon?

According  to sources cited by the Financial Times, Telegram is poised to pursue a listing in the United States once it achieves profitability and favorable market conditions prevail. Pavel Durov declined to provide a specific timeline, stating only that the company is weighing “several options”.

Telegram has secured approximately $2 billion in debt financing, comprising a $1 billion bond offering in 2021, along with additional issuances totaling $750 million in the same year and $270 million in the previous year.

Bondholders will have the opportunity to convert senior unsecured debt into equity at a discount ranging between 10% and 20% to Telegram‘s IPO price if the placement occurs before the end of March 2026 – offering an incentive for the company to go public earlier than that date.

In the event of an IPO, Durov mentioned that Telegram would consider allocating a portion of shares to its dedicated users. Additionally, he disclosed an interest in conducting a smaller capital increase, stating: “This remains a possibility if we sought to raise funds, perhaps to explore lesser-explored areas related to artificial intelligence.”

New Features And Ads

In its pursuit of revenue streams, Telegram has been experimenting with advertising in select regions. This involved high minimum spending for participation, ranging from €1 million to €10 million per advertiser or agency. This year, however, Telegram plans  to expand its ad offerings globally and cater to smaller advertisers through automated systems.

Adding another layer to their monetization strategy, Telegram is introducing a revenue-sharing program for channel creators. Starting this month, creators will receive 50% of the ad revenue generated by their channels. Additionally, Telegram will be introducing business accounts and a “social discovery” feature aimed at facilitating connections between users.

This push for advertising revenue seems at odds with Telegram’s image as a more relaxed platform when it comes to content moderation. This approach recently drew criticism for allowing some Hamas-related content to remain available. Durov acknowledges the need for improvement in moderation, particularly with various global elections approaching. He mentioned plans to utilize AI-powered solutions to address potential issues.

However, Durov emphasized a commitment to free expression.Β  He said: “Unless they cross red lines, I don’t think we should be policing people in the way they express themselves.”

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