In just five years, a Russian venture capital firm has amassed quite a portfolio of the Internet's hottest companies.
Digital Sky Technologies said this week it is taking the ICQ instant messaging service off of AOL's hands for $187.5 million, but it isn't the first time the small, four-partner firm has made social media headlines. Last May, DST bought a $300 million stake in Facebook. The company was also the key investor when social game maker Zynga raised $180 million in December and social coupon site Groupon raised $135 million this month.
So who's behind DST? The New York Times offered a partial answer in December:
Alisher Usmanov, a Russian industrialist billionaire who spent six years in an Uzbek jail for fraud and embezzlement in the 1980s (he was later cleared by a Soviet court), owns 35 percent of D.S.T. Mr. Usmanov has said he was jailed for political reasons.
Tencent, China's largest Internet company, also said it would buy a 10 percent share of DST earlier this month and Goldman Sachs, where two of DST's four partners worked, is a minority shareholder. A South African media firm, Naspers, also owns stakes both in Tencent and one of DST's websites, The Economist reported, though what all the ties mean isn't exactly clear.