Court Documents Reveal More Possible Investors in Telegram’s $1.7B ICO
Some big names that may have invested in Telegram’s token sale are surfacing in court documents as the company fights a case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The list includes some prominent individuals as well as investment firms. One of them, a former board member of the Bitcoin Foundation and a partner of Ribbit Capital Micky Malka, is mentioned in the deposition of Telegram CEO Pavel Durov. Asked if Telegram knew which of its investors could be a validator in TON proof-of-stake
blockchain, Durov said:
“We didn't put together a separate list of the purchasers who we would assume have experience in validating other networks, although it was obvious that certain investors… such as, for example, Micky Malka that we have discussed earlier, might… have experience in these processes of validation or at least were closely affiliated with parties that had experience in such processes.”
Representatives for Ribbit Capital didn’t return CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time.
Another individual mentioned in the messages from Telegram Vice President Ilia Prerkopsky was David Yang, founder of digital dictionaries company ABBYY Lingvo and a member of the Band of Angels venture fund. The excerpts of the chats have been attached to the case by the SEC.
Discussing the second round of the token sale with Perekopsky in a Telegram chat in February 2018, Yang asked, “Tell me, if I myself, David Yang, without anybody's mediation addressed Telegram directly in January and expressed a wish to invest, would I get a quote from you?”
“100 percent,” Perekopsky responded. Yang didn’t respond to a request for comment.
U.S. investment funds Kleiner Perkins, Fortress, Draper Dragon, Dragoneer, DRW Holdings and Redpoint could have invested in the gram
tokens, according to the witness declarations attached to the SEC’s motion for summary judgment submitted on Jan. 13.
There are eight declarations from TON investors explaining how they discovered the TON project and why they purchased grams. The names of the companies and testifying representatives have been redacted; however, the file names of these documents contain the names of supposed investors.
None of the companies mentioned returned CoinDesk’s requests for comment, but several sources familiar with the token sale confirmed they heard about these firms buying grams.
For example, a document named “Fortress Declaration Executed_Redacted” contains a declaration from a person who leads a team that “invested in Bitcoin, Ethereum and various Initial Coin Offerings.” According to the testimony, the fund ended up investing $10 million for about 26.5 million grams during the first round of the token sale in February 2018, and the witness himself invested $50,000 personally.
Another document, named “DRW Holdings, LLC Troutmann Declaration,” may be referring to the name of Kimberly Trautmann, head of DRW Venture Capital. In the testimony, the witness discusses investing $5 million for 13.2 million grams, hoping “to be able to trade them ... at some time after the TON blockchain became operational.”
A filing named “Redpoint - Telegram Declaration” contains the testimony of a person who represented several funds, together investing $10 million in Telegram. “I became interested in investing in the Telegram
ICO because I did not think it was possible to invest in Telegram, the company, directly,” the witness said.
That was the common thinking among many investors, says Anatoliy Knyazev, managing partner of Britain-based investment firm EXANTE, which, according to Knyazev, also invested in TON.
“Telegram and Durov have never offered to buy Telegram’s shares, and everyone apparently would love to,” Knyazev said. “So people saw those tokens as a chance to participate in Telegram in some way.”
It was previously reported U.S. funds Benchmark, Lightspeed Ventures and Sequoia Capital also invested in TON.