Messenger Block and Durov’s Darknet
Early April last year, Russian regulators decided to block Telegram in Russia, which coincided with the news that the third public token sale round of Gram was canceled. According to the official version, the regulators’ decision was triggered by Telegram management’s refusal to provide Russian enforcement bodies with keys to decrypt messages of alleged terrorists.
On April 16, 2018, Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) added telegram.org, t.me and web.telegram.org domain names as well as Telegram’s IP addresses to the register of banned web resources. Following that communication service providers were supposed to restrict access to the respective websites and IP addresses. This has in fact resulted in service interruptions for the messenger for a while, but somehow everything worked out eventually. Instead Line messenger that is extremely popular almost exclusively in Asia has stopped working in Russia exactly back then due to some unexplainable reasons, and it continues experiencing problems to this day, therefore its users now know how to use VPN.
Courtesy of some journalist last May, TON was dubbed “Durov’s Darknet”, and the name stuck. This coincided with a massive testing of the new Telegram Passport service using which TON users can store their personal data and, if necessary, use it for identification at third-party websites.
70% Completion and Dissolution of Telegram Messenger LLP
Everything was quiet until the 5th of September when developers apparently decided to remind of themselves and published a short report that quickly spread across specialized websites. The report’s key message was that everything’s basically OK, with some elements of the project being almost completed and others, the most hard ones, being 10%-50% complete. In fact, according to the report, smart contracts were the hardest part of the project. Overall, however, the report suggested that the average completion level of Telegram Open Network was around 70%.
In December 2018, Pavel Durov filed for dissolution of Telegram Messenger LLP which was the operating entity behind the messenger back then. Egocentric citizens and organizations who believe that world spins around them only were quick to jump to the conclusion that this move was nothing but an ugly attempt by messenger’s team to avoid existing access bans. This argument, however, is most likely total crap.
And there are three reasons for that:
- At the time, everyone who needed and wanted to use Telegram figured out how to bypass the ban.
- It’s not quite clear how changing the legal entity can affect the technical side of the ban. Well, it’s rather totally unclear.
- Any person with access to Google search can figure out within a few minutes that LLP stands for “limited liability partnership”, which is a very common legal setup for Internet startups that, however, usually switch to something more proper as soon as they start their operating activities. Add to that the Brexit saga which might have had an effect on Telegram management in their attempt to legally restructure the activities and leave this jurisdiction governed by undecided Anglo-Saxons.
TON in Davos and $30B Valuation
In January this year, the Internet was full of rumors suggesting that Durov intended to officially present Telegram Open Network, which he hadn’t done yet, at the World Economic Forum to be held in Davos on January 22-25. Durov never presented anything there, and even if he did, nothing has ever leaked from the presentation. Around the same time Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov doubted that TON will be a success because “the phenomenon of today’s Telegram, I believe, is that no one in the U.S. or UK has any interest in it. I mean the messenger services population in ‘grey’ countries, dictatorships like Iran, etc. As soon as Telegram enters key developed countries, CIA guys will explain to Durov how the world works.”
Despite this sad prediction, HASH Crypto Investment Bank, an oddball but vigorous organization, valued future issue of Gram tokens at $30B, although with some hesitation. Their valuation approach was based on these principles and this methodology, therefore anyone can personally go check the adequacy of their numbers..
In the meantime, Xena Exchange has offered Gram derivatives a month ago. It has been actively rumored that the platform is set to launch by the end of March; in addition, on March 14 Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down on a large scale. Following this failure, Pavel Durov was pleased to note in his Telegram channel that the messenger added 3M new users globally within 24 hours.
Then someone on the web reminded and shared the info (which is considered by the crypto community as highly reliable) regarding the agreement between Durov and investors that either the platform goes live by October 2019, or Pavel Durov gives them their money back.
It is still six months to go, while Durov brothers have never failed on their promises so far. Based on the facts and data at hand that seem to be enough for “experts” to make far-reaching conclusions I’m not willing to make any. That’s why, I look forward to hearing from TON soon.
P.S. Spoiler: this text was written on March 29, 2019, and nothing new has happened since.
P.P.S. Gram derivative product launched by Xena Exchange went from $2.2 to $8.25 in one month.
P.P.P.S. Vedomosti reported that a reliable method to block Telegram has been found indeed.