Pavel Durov

Tatan Syuflan—AP Images
  • Age
  • Title
    Founder and CEO
  • Company

Pavel Durov was once dubbed Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg. But after his social media company VKontakte ignited the Kremlin’s wrath, he fled the country and used the $300 million from its sale to launch Telegram. Since Durov last made the 40 Under 40 in 2018, Telegram’s rise has been stratospheric. Durov estimates it now has more than 700 million active users, with 2 million new subscribers daily. Iranian protesters, Russian commanders, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and countless MAGA supporters of Donald Trump have turned the encrypted, uncensored platform into a megaphone of rage, grief, breaking news, and propaganda. By some estimates, Durov is now worth $15 billion, though he maintains a low profile in his adopted home of Dubai (he also snapped up French citizenship last year), restricting his communications to his own Telegram channel. “Telegram doesn’t need additional promotion,” he wrote in October. These days, that is an understatement.