The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming.

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Russia has gone from a poor country to an increasingly wealthy one. Why? Oil prices. Now that oil is sitting around $100 a barrel Russia is sitting on a gold mine. Er, oil wells. And the cash is pouring in. One problem? They need to diversify and increase the number of companies that don’t have anything to do with energy. So, they are starting up a bunch of Venture Capital efforts.

I get the skinny on all this with Yuri Ammosov, a senior policy officer of the Russian Government in charge of venture capital and high tech development programs, talks with me about how Russia is flush with cash thanks to the rising energy prices (they are one of the world’s leading oil producers) and are working with Silicon Valley venture capital firms to diversify its economy. We talk about some of the smart people and smart companies that are popping up in Russia and tons of other stuff too.

I like his honesty. He told me that being an entrepreneur in Russia today is like being an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley in the 1960s (when Silicon Valley was still largely a farm town).

Comments

  1. My Slavic brothers Russians already have arrived to USA in big numbers to high tech – see for example co-founder of Google – but obviously Russia has big potential not just because of high oil prices but because of intellectual potential – who was the first to go space? who built the first wholly titan-based nuclear submarines? etc etc . However still democracy in Russia is not full/complete so still some work required there…

  2. My Slavic brothers Russians already have arrived to USA in big numbers to high tech – see for example co-founder of Google – but obviously Russia has big potential not just because of high oil prices but because of intellectual potential – who was the first to go space? who built the first wholly titan-based nuclear submarines? etc etc . However still democracy in Russia is not full/complete so still some work required there…

  3. Well, yeah, except for the rampant corruption and cult of personality and no freedom of speech. Call me old-fashioned, but I see those as obstacles to entrepreneurialism.

  4. Well, yeah, except for the rampant corruption and cult of personality and no freedom of speech. Call me old-fashioned, but I see those as obstacles to entrepreneurialism.

  5. Clearly, Russia faces many challenges: the political system; the corruption; the poor way that, in recent decades, the country treated its brilliant engineers and scientists; the fact that it was effectively closed off from much of the world for so many years.

    However, no-one should think that all this means there aren’t massive opportunities for entrepreneurs. If Russia was ravaged by war (or civil war), it would be a different matter; but all the problems Russia has can be worked around…

    In fact, major Western VCs and corporate investors are actually already investing in Russian companies. For example, a few months ago, Index Ventures (Skype, MySQL, Last.fm, Joost etc) and Cisco Systems invested in a Russian company called OZON. What are they trying to do? Build the Russian version of Amazon.

    It’s a no-brainer that western VCs are going to put more money into Russian start-ups in the coming years… The same trend is going to happen in coutries such as China, India, The Philippines, and South Africa.

  6. Clearly, Russia faces many challenges: the political system; the corruption; the poor way that, in recent decades, the country treated its brilliant engineers and scientists; the fact that it was effectively closed off from much of the world for so many years.

    However, no-one should think that all this means there aren’t massive opportunities for entrepreneurs. If Russia was ravaged by war (or civil war), it would be a different matter; but all the problems Russia has can be worked around…

    In fact, major Western VCs and corporate investors are actually already investing in Russian companies. For example, a few months ago, Index Ventures (Skype, MySQL, Last.fm, Joost etc) and Cisco Systems invested in a Russian company called OZON. What are they trying to do? Build the Russian version of Amazon.

    It’s a no-brainer that western VCs are going to put more money into Russian start-ups in the coming years… The same trend is going to happen in coutries such as China, India, The Philippines, and South Africa.

  7. Well that Silicon Valley farm town, didn’t have a huge mafia infrastructure, where corruption was policy and it didn’t have a large leftover autocratic iron-will government. To suddenly call Russia a rule-of-law Republic, is seriously misreading things. And they have been here, just now as businessmen, instead of asylum seekers, just took the lifting of the Iron Curtain to make that happen. But not only the Russians, all of Eastern Europe.

    Now if we can just turn Istanbul back into Constantinople, and reclaim Byzantium over the OttoIslamic Curtain (carpet bombing, selling the population into bondage), then all will be well. Have some Crusade not run by the French, and some Richard with a real lionheart. ;)

  8. Well that Silicon Valley farm town, didn’t have a huge mafia infrastructure, where corruption was policy and it didn’t have a large leftover autocratic iron-will government. To suddenly call Russia a rule-of-law Republic, is seriously misreading things. And they have been here, just now as businessmen, instead of asylum seekers, just took the lifting of the Iron Curtain to make that happen. But not only the Russians, all of Eastern Europe.

    Now if we can just turn Istanbul back into Constantinople, and reclaim Byzantium over the OttoIslamic Curtain (carpet bombing, selling the population into bondage), then all will be well. Have some Crusade not run by the French, and some Richard with a real lionheart. ;)