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Despite increasing criticism of Groupon business model, Tiger Global Management has backed its Russian competitor. BigLion has just received an estimated $25 million investment. Its website is ranked 22 in Russia, according to Alexa, compared to Groupon’s rank of 78. So far Groupon Russia (previously Darberry) has received no more than $5 million investment over its lifetime, whilst BigLion, over 10 per cent of which is owned by Ru-net venture fund, has so far received over $20 million, according to Darberry co-founder Victor Lysenko.
More news are coming from Fast Lane Ventures, as its portfolio company VitaPortal, Russian online healthcare information resource announces a new advisory council lead by Esther Dyson. Dyson is leading angel investor in Russia, whose portfolio includes Yandex, Ostrovok.ru, Altergeo, TerraLink and Zingaya. The news is in line with Dyson’s current investment focus on healthcare.
In the mean time Deezer, the French analog of Spotify has just expanded to Russia in what appears to be a hasty move to grab market share. Hasty, because the payments to Deezer can be made only with PayPal and credit card. In Russia preferred payments for online purchases include cash on delivery, offline payments through Qiwi kiosks and premium SMS (whereby mobile operators take up to 40 per cent transaction fee). Consumers use credit cards, PayPal or Yandex Money less frequently. The CEO of Russia’s leading ecommerce website Ozon Holding Maelle Gavet said during the panel at the recent TechCrunch Moscow, that 80 per cent of payments to Ozon are still cash on delivery, whilst the transaction fees for electronic payments remain too high.
Additionally Deezer is set to compete with free music streaming functionality available at Vkontakte social network, as well as free music streaming service from Yandex Music and Russian Pandora analogue Zvooq.ru. Coincidently, Deezer has just this week expanded to Germany, where Spotify is not present yet, making me a happy person.
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