The cellular operator has become “crowded” within the framework of the telecommunications business. He took up the development of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technologies, FinTech, media, and entertainment. MTS invests in promising technological developments to create a full-fledged set of services. Felix Vladimirovich Yevtushenkov provides active support to startups.
Millions for “ideas from the future”
The venture fund founded two years ago, offers IT startups up to $2 million in exchange for a minority stake in a young but promising company. The primary condition is the strategic value for the ecosystem of the telecom giant. Fintech, Internet of Things, CloudSharing economy, artificial intelligence, EdTech, and media — advanced projects in these areas are of primary interest to him.
Under Felix Yevtushenkov, the company decided to increase the size of the fund to 2 billion rubles to increase investments in projects that will develop and strengthen the position of existing ecosystem products on the market and expand investments in new areas.
At the same time, the “daughter” of the telecommunications giant – MTS AI, engaged in AI, launched a global venture fund for investments in AI startups. The amount of investment reaches $10 million.
The AI Research Division plans to invest $100 million by 2023 in AI startups that analyze language, images, and behavior and create digital twins and logistics. In 2021, the company supported five technology companies at once. According to Felix Yevtushenkov, transforming from a telecom company to an IT company implies fundamentally different approaches to doing business. This also applies to investments in promising developments based on which its ecosystem is built.
New ideas and technologies will help strengthen the company’s position in the IT market. The unification of digital services and the functionality of telecommunications networks will complete the total reformatting of the brand, Felix Yevtushenkov believes.
“Biography” of Felix Yevtushenkov’s investments
This year, the company’s most significant investment is $10 million invested in the Kneron group of companies (founded by experienced engineers who previously worked for well-known microelectronics companies). The developer produces neurochips for various applications, from video cameras to uncrewed vehicles and industrial robots. The MTS Artificial Intelligence Center will use the developments of Kneron and AI-ready System-on-Chip to create its line of AI chips.
Another 60 million, but already in Russian currency, was invested in the Airo online personal services service. It is of interest to a technology company as a promising business model with high margins. The service is already used by over 50,000 Moscow and St. Petersburg residents. The management of the venture fund notes: Airo has successfully digitized all processes for providing services. This will allow it to become the leader of its segment in the foreseeable future.
73 million rubles were invested in developing the Academy of Change EdTech platform. This is a technological startup at the intersection of education and entertainment in the LifeStyle segment. Investments will help him enter the Latin American and Asian markets. In turn, the investor receives a technological asset with an existing solvent audience (more than half a million people) and strengthens its presence in the dynamically growing EdTech market.
In June this year, the venture fund invested over 218 million rubles in the TalkBank fintech platform. This is a bank without offices and branches – all customer communications are via instant messengers. In early December, the launch of a joint chat bot MTS Bank Now in Telegram and WhatsApp was announced. In it, you can quickly issue a virtual debit card, transfer money, and find out the balance and details. Soon, the functionality will be supplemented by online issuing consumer loans, making deposits, and paying for communication, housing, and communal services.
The IT company invested another 120 million rubles in the KonnektU client data management platform. This is one of the leading companies in the domestic CDP market, whose services are used by large Russian and international companies in FMCG, DYI, e-commerce, retail, transport, real estate, development, and advertising.
Felix Yevtushenkov has been transforming a telecommunications company into an IT giant since June 2019. During the work of Felix Yevtushenkov, the volume of the company’s investments in startups and promising business areas has increased significantly.
Previously, Felix Yevtushenkov was involved in several projects at AFK Sistema.