Pavel Durov of Telegram: WhatsApp Sucks | Summary and Q&A

September 23, 2015
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Pavel Durov of Telegram: WhatsApp Sucks

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In this interview, Mike Butcher from TechCrunch speaks with Pavel Durov, the creator of Telegram. They discuss the purpose and advantages of Telegram compared to other messaging platforms, the significance of end-to-end encryption for privacy, the introduction of the bot platform and the potential for third-party developers to make money, the blocking of porn bots and negotiations with governments, the independence and nomadic lifestyle of the Telegram team, the funding and future direction of Telegram, concerns about ISIS using the platform, and the growth and popularity of Telegram.

Questions & Answers

Q: How many messages are delivered daily on Telegram?

Telegram delivers over 12 billion messages daily, making it a popular and frequently used messaging app.

Q: What makes Telegram different from other messaging apps?

Telegram offers several advantages over other messaging apps like WhatsApp, such as cross-device syncing, the ability to send large files and documents, and better privacy measures to protect the user's information.

Q: How does Telegram ensure privacy and encryption?

Telegram claims to have end-to-end encryption, meaning that messages can only be read by the sender and the receiver. This builds trust and retains users who value the security and privacy of their messages.

Q: Can third-party developers create bots on Telegram?

Yes, Telegram has a bot platform that allows third-party developers to create bots using a simple API. This has led to the rise of various services and startups utilizing this communication paradigm, some of which have received acquisition offers within a few months of existence.

Q: Can these bot developers make money on Telegram?

Telegram is considering launching a payment API so that third-party developers can easily accept money from their users within the Telegram platform. This opens up opportunities for bot developers to monetize their creations.

Q: Will Telegram allow advertising on the platform?

Some bots on Telegram are already being used for sending ads, although Pavel Durov is not personally a fan of ads. Nonetheless, Telegram acknowledges that this form of advertising is already happening and it may become a part of the ecosystem in the future.

Q: Has Telegram made compromises on its platform, such as shutting down certain bots in markets where porn is prohibited?

Telegram does block porn bots in markets where porn is prohibited, to avoid being perceived as a source of explicit content or compromising their stance on values. This aligns with the decisions made by other tech companies like Apple, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Q: Is privacy and freedom of speech important to Telegram?

Telegram takes privacy and freedom of speech seriously. It has never disclosed any user data to third parties, including governments. While Telegram does block certain content, such as porn bots, it upholds its principles by not interfering with bot platforms that criticize governments or engage in opposition activities.

Q: Were you forced to leave Russia because of your previous company, Vkontakte?

Pavel Durov left Vkontakte, a popular social network in Russia, amidst controversy and pressure from forces aligned with the government. However, he considers his experiences in Russia as not out of the ordinary, as many business leaders face similar challenges.

Q: How do you manage running a company while living a nomadic lifestyle?

Currently, Telegram has a small team of 15 people who can afford to rent houses and work remotely. Some aspects like design and customer support are outsourced to Eastern Europe and Southern Europe. While being a target is not a significant concern, excessive attention is sometimes received during visits to the United States.

Q: Has Telegram raised any outside investment?

Telegram has not raised money through traditional means like venture capital. Pavel Durov sold his shares in Vkontakte, accumulating a considerable fortune that sustains the company's operations. Independence is valued, as it allows Telegram to prioritize its vision and goals.

Q: Is Telegram poised to compete with Facebook in Russia?

Pavel Durov does not believe that Facebook will take over Russia, but acknowledges that Vkontakte still leads in terms of dominance. However, mobile apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber, and Snapchat are gaining popularity. Telegram may not necessarily follow an Eastern model or prioritize dominance, but it will experiment with payment systems and third-party applications to enhance user experience.

Q: What are Telegram's plans for the future in terms of growth?

While striving to increase its user base, Telegram is more focused on building a reliable and efficient platform than solely reaching certain market share or revenue goals. The goal is to provide a messaging app loved and used by millions of people worldwide.

Q: Are you concerned that ISIS is using Telegram for communication?

Telegram prioritizes privacy and believes that the protection of users' privacy is more important than the fear of bad things happening, like terrorism. Telegram denies involvement in any illicit activities and emphasizes that there are already open-source apps available for secure communication.

Q: Does Telegram have enough active users and growth potential?

While Telegram has over 60 million users, it is often compared to older messaging apps like WhatsApp, which have larger user bases. However, considering Telegram's age and industry newcomers, it has achieved significant success. Telegram's user activity has increased exponentially, indicating that people are adopting Telegram as their primary messaging app.

Q: What are the next big milestones for Telegram in terms of users?

While the exact numbers are not disclosed, Telegram aims to continue growing its user base and reach larger milestones. However, Telegram does not prioritize announcing numbers and instead focuses on providing a reliable and secure messaging experience.


Telegram has become a popular messaging app with a user base of over 60 million and delivering over 12 billion messages daily. It differentiates itself from other apps by offering cross-device syncing, the ability to send large files, and better privacy measures. The bot platform allows third-party developers to create bots, and Telegram may introduce a payment API to enable monetization. While Telegram values privacy and freedom of speech, it blocks content like porn bots in markets where it is prohibited. Pavel Durov leads a nomadic lifestyle but manages the company's operations effectively. Telegram has not raised outside investment, has enough funding, and plans to stay independent. The rise of ISIS using Telegram is not a major concern, as privacy is prioritized over fear. Telegram's growth potential is seen in the increasing user activity, where people are switching to Telegram as their primary messaging app. The exact user milestones are not disclosed, but Telegram aims to continue building a reliable and secure platform.

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