Pavel Durov: “The USA is a brutal police state!”

Pavel Durov: “The USA is a brutal police state!”
Pavel Durov: “The USA is a brutal police state!”
8 May 2020, 13:09
A well-known Russian entrepreneur listed seven reasons why entrepreneurs involved in the IT business should not move to Silicon Valley.

Recently Novye Izvestia published a material comparing the famous Silicon Valley, which became Mecca for those involved in modern technology, and Skolkov, which looks like a miserable likeness of the Valley. The well-known Russian businessman Pavel Durov has a completely different view of things, who, however, does not compare her with Skolov, but speaks extremely unpleasantly about the very conditions of life in America:

“Recently, a film by Yuri Dudy about Silicon Valley was released. In it, immigrant entrepreneurs talk about the benefits of moving to the United States.

Being personally acquainted with many heroes of the film by Yuri personally, I noticed a contrast between what they declare on camera and what they talk about in private conversations. From all the familiar entrepreneurs from the plot, I have heard more than once about the downsides of life in the United States. Now one of them spends half his time at home, the other has actually returned to Europe for several months, the third has become disillusioned with the Americans and is building “little Russia” around him.

In general, on camera, the characters in the film show one very American trait - to circumvent sharp corners and concentrate on the positive sides. I consider it my duty to talk about America’s shortcomings in order to warn the new generation of entrepreneurs from repeating the mistakes of their predecessors. Below are 7 reasons why you should not move to Silicon Valley.

1. Police state

Despite the image of the country of freedom, the USA is a tough police state, which is the leader in terms of the number of people in prison . The percentage of prisoners in America is 10 times higher than in Finland, Germany or the Netherlands. If you think that this will not affect you, I would not be so sure: at least one of the entrepreneurs who advertised the Valley in the film itself suffered from the unjust actions of US law enforcement agencies and the surveillance organized by him. As I said, we at Telegram also faced pressure from the FBI during a trip to San Francisco in 2016.

2. Inaccessible healthcare

The US healthcare system is inefficient and expensive, and as a result many emigrants fly to Eastern Europe for treatment - it comes out cheaper. On average, US residents are not healthy: the US is in first place for obesity among developed countries. Possible reasons for this are poorly regulated food processing, a low food culture, and stress.

3. Limited cultural life

Silicon Valley is a few villages with limited cultural life. The nearest city, San Francisco, is also far from a metropolis, but has a high crime rate and a large number of homeless people . It is ironic that San Francisco is the only place in the history of my travels where I was attacked during the day in the center of the city.

4. Average secondary education

The quality of secondary education in the United States is lower than in other developed countries. America takes only 38th place in the quality of teaching mathematics in schools (out of 79 countries studied). All the winners of the world programming championships who stand for eminent American universities are ethnic Chinese who were educated in Chinese schools and moved to the United States. Despite this, the USA takes first places at these competitions much less often than China or Russia.

5. High taxes

The United States is a country of high taxes, and successful California residents give more than half of their earnings to the state. At the same time, the USA is the only state in the world that continues to demand income tax from its citizens even after they left the country. A United States passport is an economic serfdom that is always with you no matter where in the world you live. Of course, you can try to renounce US citizenship, but - as the sad example of Oleg Tinkov showed - and this does not always work. In Eastern Europe, direct taxes are significantly lower than in the United States, and in countries like the UAE they are completely zero.

6. The high cost of development

Silicon Valley is a place of high prices not only for real estate, but also for the high-tech business. Emigrant entrepreneurs themselves rarely hire Silicon Valley developers. Local programmers are expensive, spoiled and often unable to focus on work due to the flow of extraneous suggestions and ideas. As a result, emigrants prefer to work with programmers and designers from Eastern Europe, but even this is often difficult for them due to the 10-hour time difference. In this sense, it’s much easier to lead a development from a time zone close to Eastern Europe or India.

7. Weak market prospects in the XXI century

The American market is an overheated and regulated segment of the world Internet, representing only 4% of the world's population. Even 10 or 20 years ago, it seemed that all global projects could be launched only from Silicon Valley, and this was justified. Then the USA provided the largest single Internet market, and all new projects, such as YouTube and Instagram , it was easier to launch from there.

In recent years, this is no longer the case: the largest success stories in social media arise just outside of Silicon Valley. An example is TikTok with 800 million users, or Telegram with 400 million active users. Last week, Indian educational startup Byju reached a capitalization of $ 10 billion. This is logical: today, India, and not the United States, is the largest open Internet market. It is no coincidence that the share of Indian users in Telegram exceeds the share of users from any other country. We are pleased that our headquarters are located relatively close to this country, and not on the back of the globe.


The United States is not the best place to live or to run an IT business. I am sure that if you have a choice, everyone who wants to leave Eastern Europe should definitely consider other options.

Human rights and freedoms are much better protected in the countries of Northern and Central Europe, and economic growth in the 21st century is concentrated in Asian countries. America is still able to lure some of the already held entrepreneurs and developers from around the world with cheap money investors, but moving to the United States today is akin to buying an asset at the peak of value..."

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