Here’s one to watch: serial entrepreneur Oleg Tinkoff — best known for starting a groundbreaking online bank in his home country of Russia — is putting together a new business, with substantial backing from Goldman Sachs.
The 45-year-old, who has built a reputation as one of Russia’s most successful businessmen with a range of ventures including technology, brewing and restaurants, announced the creation of a new advertising company, Tinkoff Digital, on Tuesday.
It’s being set up with $20 million, raised from Goldman and Tinkoff himself, with the aim of developing new online and mobile ad technologies.
Goldman Sachs will be a co-investor and shareholder in the business, together with Oleg Tinkoff. Tinkoff and Goldman Sachs will initially invest approximately US$20 million to purchase and develop new technologies, to recruit an experienced management team and to market new products.
“The untapped potential in the Internet space is enormous, and I believe this is an environment where new billion dollar companies are going to appear,” said Tinkoff.
On his own Livejournal account, Tinkoff described the scheme as his “last feat” — pointing out that it is not a fund, but a company that he will be managing on a day to day basis.
“I am already old and infirm, tired of everything and everyone, but I decided on my last feat,” he joked. “Like Baron Münchhausen, I have scheduled another — final — stunt. I decided on a fifth business, which is definitely an internet project, a startup: I want to do a few projects in the field of internet advertising.”
But while it’s not entirely clear what he’s up to, it looks like he’s hoping to cash in on the growing boom of internet and smartphone use in Russia, which is now Europe’s most populous internet market. And that makes him part of a new generation of local entrepreneurs who see the web space as a huge and largely untapped opportunity — not entirely unlike the first dotcom boom in America, but with nearly 20 years of development in between.