19:48 PM

Russian Billionaire Investment Firm Says Groupon Was Right To Reject Google

Paris: Alexander Tamas, partner at Digital Sky Technologies (DST), a major investor in Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, and Groupon, defended Groupon's rejection of Google's acquisition bid saying that it could become one of the most important companies on the Internet.

Mr Tamas was speaking at the Le Web conference in Paris. He said that there are very few Internet companies that have the potential to define their genre and become great companies. Groupon can achieve much more by staying independent.

DST is a Russian-based investment company largely funded by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov and run by Yuri Milner.

Earlier this year BusinessWeek reported: A Russian Star Rises in Silicon Valley

Since paying $200 million for 2% of Facebook last May, Milner has increased that stake to nearly 10%--worth perhaps $2 billion--by purchasing shares from early employees...

On Apr. 19, DST took the majority of a $135 million financing round for Groupon, a Chicago-based site offering coupons for restaurants and museums. In December, DST was the biggest investor in a group that plowed $180 million into Zynga.

...Milner has become a major backer of Web 2.0 startups and has another $1 billion to spend on new investments.

Mr Tamas said that DST looks for companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion and it only invests in Internet companies that have the potential to become the most important in their markets.

He declined to discuss the details of Groupon's rejection of Google's offer, reported to be as high as $6 billion but he said that the company's incredible growth in selling "groupons" discount coupons, justified its decision to stay independent.

He said it was rare to find Internet companies of the stature of Groupon. He used the analogy of planets, which shine by reflecting light; and stars, which generate their own light -- Groupon is in the star category.
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Please see: Analysis: Google Buying Groupon Doesn't Make Sense...

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