In brief

  • Telegram is reportedly planning to go public in the next two years, with a valuation of $30-50 billion.
  • According to reports, Telegram favors a direct listing on either the Nasdaq or the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Telegram is considering an IPO within the next two years with a possible valuation in the region of $30-50 billion, Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported on Monday, citing several sources familiar with the matter.

According to one of the sources, the IPO date hinges on market dynamics, with a traditional IPO model, direct listing, or a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) among the possible scenarios for Telegram's listing.

Telegram is reportedly conducting pre-IPO analysis and is looking to decide on the most appropriate region for going public. According to Vedomosti's sources, the most preferable option for the company’s shareholders is a direct listing on either the Nasdaq or the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Decrypt has reached out to Telegram for comment and will update this story accordingly.

Asia-centric user base

Hong Kong could eventually become the company’s jurisdiction of choice, as over 40% of Telegram’s users are based in Asia. By the time of a possible IPO in 2023, this number is expected to reach as much as 50%, with the total number of users expected to grow to about 1 billion.

Launched in 2013 as a privacy-focused, ad-free messaging app, earlier this year Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users, many of whom are actively engaged in cryptocurrency trading and other related activities.

Last month, Telegram raised over $1 billion through bond sales. The company refused to disclose further details; however, as its founder and CEO Pavel Durov wrote at the time, the deal involved “some of the largest and most knowledgeable investors from all over the world.”

According to Durov, the fresh funds will enable Telegram to continue its global outreach “while sticking to its values and remaining independent.”

The other reason for Telegram choosing Hong Kong for its IPO could be the company’s long-running confrontation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which forced the messenger to abandon its cryptocurrency project dubbed Telegram Open Network after it had raised $1.7 billion via an ICO in 2018.

In 2019, the SEC took Telegram to court, alleging that its ICO constituted an illegal, unregistered securities offering. Eventually, the company was forced to return most of the money to investors and settled the case with the SEC, having agreed to pay a $18.5 million fine.