Did a Russian investor finance Spotify in its early days?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022
By Lisa Freedland

Early in 2011, Russian tech investor Yuri Milner helped finance Spotify. One such investment was indirectly funded by VTB Bank, a majority state-owned Russian bank. This, along with Milner's investments in Facebook and Twitter, have led to conspiracy theories that Milner is "working for Russia to turn social media against democracy," according to Vox. 

Milner's investments were made through his venture fund, DST Global, an international investment firm headquartered in Hong Kong. DST Global itself is funded by many international, passive investors who have no say in which companies DST decides to fund. VTB Bank is amongst these passive investors, having no influence in DST's decision to fund Spotify. VTB Bank is responsible for less than 5% of the contributions made to DST Global.

Milner states that such theories are only compelling amongst those "that see my nationality as inherently suspicious."

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Foundry. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Foundry writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Foundry reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.