Index Ventures halts Russian investments as global tech response growsLeigh Mc Gowranon March 8, 2022 at 09:32 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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While the global tech sector continues to take action, VC firm Index Ventures is one of the latest to cut ties with Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company announced yesterday (7 March) that it is halting any sort of investment in Russia and will support other companies that move their teams out of the country.

Index Ventures said it is taking steps “beyond” complying with international sanctions against Russia.

“We believe it is necessary to cut off resources that would in any way support Russian state institutions, its regime-controlled media, and its financial system,” the firm said in a blog post. “We are therefore committing not to make any investments in Russia until further notice. We will not co-invest with entities and individuals with links to the Russian regime.”

Index Ventures said none of its current funds have any limited partners from Russia and “none will be included” in any future funds created.

“We stand in solidarity with Ukrainians, and with Russians who are equally appalled by the actions of their government in a senseless war that was not of their choosing,” the company added.

Apple

Tech giant Apple has continued its actions against Russia, as the company has suspended search ads on the Russian App Store “until further notice”.

The company added that no new campaigns will be able to run on the country’s App Store while the suspension continues. This decision prevents developers from placing ads on the digital store’s search results.

The App store is still available to Russian citizens, something the Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov had requested of Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.

Apple has suspended all search ads on the Russian app store. pic.twitter.com/gUGvPsdRsz

— James Thomson (@jamesthomson) March 7, 2022

Apple’s decision follows its move last week to stop the sales of its products in Russia, while  removing the RT and Sputnik apps from its App Store globally.

The decision could cost Apple significantly due to the loss of product sales. According to data presented by online shopping portal Burga, Apple accounts for 15pc of Russian smartphone sales, ranking third overall.

Based on Burga’s calculations, the company could lose $3m a day in iPhone sales revenue, or $1.14bn a year.

Surge in Russian VPN demand

Following the decision of Russian regulators to ban Facebook and Twitter, new research has detected a spike in VPN demand in the country.

According to SafetyDetectives, VPN demand multiplied by 2 when the decision to ban Facebook was announced. The research team also found that since 24 February, the demand for VPNs in Russia increased by 462pc.

“We looked at the figures for both paid VPNs and free VPNs to calculate this average,” SafetyDetectives said in a statement. “If we were looking at free VPNs only, it’s possible the number would be much higher.”

Russia suffered a major blow to its online traffic yesterday when US company Cogent Communications –  reportedly the second-largest internet carrier out of Russia – terminated services for clients in the country.

Prosus

Dutch e-commerce company Prosus expects to write off its entire stake in Russian social network VK. The stake is worth more than $700m, Reuters reports.

The company also asked its directors on the VK board to resign in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The decision comes after VK Group’s CEO Vladimir Kirienko was added to a U.S. sanctions list.

Coinbase

Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced yesterday that it has blocked more than 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities, which the platform believes is engaged in “illicit activity”.

With Russia facing financial sanctions from the EU, US and other nations, there have been concerns that individuals and organisations in the country would turn to crypto to bypass restrictions. Last week, it was reported that the US government added crypto rules to its sanctions guidance.

Coinbase said that it shared the details of these blocked entities with the US government “to further support sanctions enforcement”. However, the platform said this figure is not specific to the time period since the invasion of Ukraine began, as “most” of these addresses were identified prior to the invasion.

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