“I was perceived as a technician”: Billionaire Milner talked about his work in Medvedev’s commission

The businessman told American Forbes that he has not been to Russia or invested in Russian companies since 2009.

Yuri Milner, the founder of DST Global fund #15

gave an interview to the American Forbes, where he talked about his work in the commission on modernization, established by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The businessman did not work in the government, but was a member of the commission in 2009-2011. Milner said that he got there by being the chairman of Mail Group.

“I was perceived as a technician. I was advising the government on a project called e-government. We were researching information from around the world to see what other governments were doing about putting data in the cloud and about e-services such as driver’s licenses and filing taxes electronically,” he said.

The businessman added that commission meetings were held every two months. “I didn’t have any staff. I participated solely as a private citizen,” he explained.

The billionaire noted that he had not returned to Russia for the last 3-4 years and had already moved his entire family, including his parents, to the United States. He stressed that DST has not invested in Russia since 2009, when the fund was founded.

The businessman also confirmed that last year he invested in Cadence, the startup of Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump. Milner stressed that he was guided solely by business interests and for him this investment was no different from the rest.

Commenting on accusations against Facebook that the social network was used to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, Milner noted that his father, who grew up in the Soviet Union, always advised him to “stay away from politics. “My father was a wise man, and the principle of ‘staying out of politics’ was one of the reasons I became a scholar early on. I’ve stuck to it ever since,” he concluded.

Since the 2000’s Milner has been involved in venture capital business and the development of Internet companies in Russia. Co-founder of one of Russia’s largest internet holdings, Mail.ru Group, he invested in high-tech companies including Xiaomi, Spotify and Airbnb. He successfully sold shares in Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba and JD.com. He co-founded Breakthrough Prize Foundation with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and other IT entrepreneurs. The foundation gives out annual prizes of $3 million for the best scientific projects.

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