Telegram founder says the company will become profitable next year

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that the company expects to hit profitability next year with eyes on going public in the future.

The chat app, which crossed 900 million users, is making “hundreds of millions of dollars” through ads and subscriptions, Durov told the Financial Times in an interview. He mentioned that while global investors have offered the company money at a more than $30 billion valuation, Telegram aims to go public in the future.

“The main reason why we started to monetize is because we wanted to remain independent. Generally speaking, we see value in [an IPO] as a means to democratize access to Telegram’s value,” he told FT.

While Telegram is not looking to raise a mega round, the company is open to investment in exchange for smaller equity.

Telegram launched a Premium subscription two years ago and within months crossed the mark of 1 million paid users. The company also offers ad solutions for one-to-many channels and plans to launch ad revenue sharing with channel owners this month. Durov told FT that ad solutions currently are limited to certain geographies and the company mandates agencies to spend between €1mn and €10mn. Telegram is looking to expand ad offerings globally this year and also make room for small ticket spenders.

Earlier this month, the company announced that personal users can convert their accounts to business accounts by paying a subscription fee.

Apart from these solutions, Telegram has also experimented with blockchain-based projects through the TON foundation. In December 2022, the company auctioned premium usernames using TON Blockchain to let people use the app without any SIM. In September 2023, Telegram added a self-custodial crypto wallet globally except in the U.S.

Durov has said in the past that Telegram wants to launch AI-powered chatbots for customer service for business users. The company also plans to invest in AI to solve moderation issues that often plague the platform.