26 November 2009, 17:05

Odnoklassniki.ru fights off UK bid

Odnoklassniki.ru fights off UK bid

The British Company i-CD Publishing planned to take over ownership of the popular Russian social network "Odnoklassniki.ru" but failed to do so. The court hearing against the creator of the Russian Internet resource Albert Popkov ended in a peace accord between the two sides.

The British Company i-CD Publishing planned to take over ownership of the popular Russian social network "Odnoklassniki.ru" but failed to do so. The court hearing against the creator of the Russian Internet resource Albert Popkov ended in a peace accord between the two sides.

 

The scandal stirred up last year when i-CD Publishing filed a lawsuit at a London court against their former executive Albert Popkov, who worked for seven years on its projects, at a London court. I-CD accused Popkov of copyright infringement and breach of contract, and demanded that it be granted the ownership, assets and revenues of "Odnoklassniki.ru", which was launched on the Runet when the Russian was working for the British company.

        

Originally, experts saw commercial interests of the Brits at stake in the Popkov case because the social network launched by him is one of the most popular websites in Russia. At present, 40 million people have registered on the website, 8 million of which, visit it daily. "The lawsuit against Popkov was based on the desire of the British Company to enter into the Russian market," says Andrei Naumchik, the head of the Centre of Internet-Surfing Project "F5" of the Zhivi media group.

 

It seems that the social network "Odnoklassniki" has become self-sufficient and started to earn money, says Andrei Naumchik. This is largely due to Albert Popkov and his team. It is quite a difficult task to create a social network and win its popularity in Russia under the current conditions of market-oriented economic relations. "Odnoklassniki" is among the leaders in the number of users in Russia. For comparison, the number of visits to the world's largest social network, FaceBook is several times less than that to "Odnoklassniki". Meanwhile, MySpace planned to close its Russian office this past summer. According to estimates, Russians are the most active users of social networks.

        

Right from the start of the legal proceedings Popkov was confident that he had been right and justice would prevail, and the "Odnoklassniki" would remain as a unique Russian project. But the Brits have no intention to give up. After dropping claims to Popkov, the company said it had plans to work in Russia independently.

 

"This is a question of the future and we do not exclude such a possibility since the Russian market is quite attractive for us," said the head of I-CD Publishing Alastair Crawford. He made this statement when challenges facing a newcomer were very clear. One of them is the scandalous reputation of a company in Russia that went to court against one of the most respected persons of the Runet. Another one is the tough competition on the Russian market. It is impossible even to imagine that a new social Internet site will become more popular than "Vkontakte.ru" or "Odnoklassniki.ru" because millions of people in Russia, the former Soviet republics and other countries visit these sites daily.

 

 

   

Maria Volkova
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