Pavel Durov, the co-founder of Telegram, has made a bold prediction about the growth of his encrypted messaging app.

Last month Pavel Durov in his first public interview in seven years, revealed that Telegram had reached 900 million users, is nearing profitability, and is considering a public listing. India is one its leading markets in terms of user numbers.

Now Durov was quoted by Reuters as saying that Telegram will likely cross one billion active monthly users within a year as it is spreading like “forest fire”.

Telegram platform

Telegram is widely used countries across the former Soviet Union and Middle East, and is said to be the most popular instant messaging application in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Telegram was founded in 2013 by Nikolai and Pavel Durov and has been growing steadily since then.

Pavel Durov fully owns Telegram and he is estimated by Forbes to have a fortune of $15.5 billion.

Last month Durov had told the Financial Times that the Dubai-based company, which has only about 50 full-time staff, is making “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenues after introducing advertising and premium subscriptions two years ago.

He said the company was hoping to become profitable this year or next year.

Pavel Durov left Russia in 2014 after he refused to comply with demands to shut down opposition communities on his VK social media platform, which he sold.

Russian authorities have previously accused Telegram of enabling terrorists to communicate in secret through the encrypted messaging and have blamed the app for concealing the messages of the suicide bomber who killed 15 people in St Petersburg in April 2017.

The app is also known to have been used by Islamic State for propaganda purposes in the past, especially by those based in Russia, but the company has made efforts to clamp down on these terrorist accounts.

Telegram has consistently refused to comply with demands Russia’s FSB Federal Security Service which wanted access to some messages for its work, including safeguarding against terrorist attacks, citing respect for user privacy.

Indeed, Durov has always been vocal against the sharing of confidential data with government entities, despite agreeing to register the company with the Russian authorities.

Durov has also dismissed questions about claims that Telegram was controlled by Russia as a false rumour spread by his competitors worried about Telegram’s growth.

“I would rather be free than to take orders from anyone,” Durov reportedly said about his exit from Russia and search for a home for his company which included stints in Berlin, London, Singapore and San Francisco.

Billion users

After crossing the 900 million threshold last month, Durov is now predicting more growth, that could see the messaging platform pose a larger challenge to one of its main rivals, Meta’s WhatsApp.

“We’ll probably cross one billion monthly active users within a year now,” Durov, who fully owns Telegram, told American conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson according to a video interview posted on Carlson’s account on the X social media platform.

“Telegram is spreading like forest fire,” he reportedly said.

WhatsApp has more than two billion monthly active users.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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