When Google acquired YouTube in 2006, some guys in the Russian city of Oriol were pretty excited about that. I know I was as well, especially when I saw the video shot by the happy founders Chad and Steve. That’s just a web-savvy’s dream. The guys from Oriol – Oleg Volobuyev, Mikhail Paulkin, Askar Tuganbayev – agreed with me and created their own YouTube: Rutube. So instead of bluntly calling Rutube a rip-off, I’m going to express my admiration for the guts of its founders to just start working on making that dream reality.
They bootstrapped the online video community for two years and turned it into to largest independent video site of Russia. According to the Quintura blog, RuTube has 400 thousand daily users and more than 40 million video views per month. That didn’t go unnoticed by the leading Russian media holding Gazprom-Media. Yesterday business daily Kommersand reported that the media giant acquired a majority stake in RuTube, valuing the business at 15 million dollars. Moreover, they will pump millions into RuTube. Quintura reports that Gazprom-Media has already started broadcasting video shows on RuTube.
Gazprom-Media was founded in 1998 as a subsidiary of the world’s largest natural gas company and is famous for acquiring independent media outlets such as Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media Most holding. Apparently they’ve decided to shift their focus to online media. Considering Gazprom-Media is not afraid of changing editorial policies to their needs, I don’t think this recent acquisition will be beneficiary for the freedom of speech in Russia.