Makharinsky says that while he’ll remain on the board of directors and is “supporting the company as much as I can” he’s no long with the startup. However, he says he has high hopes for the company which now employs 200 staff, has a large amount of cash in the bank and growth that will drive it – he says – to profitability within a year, with revenues “growing at almost 20% every month”.
He says he plans to use his experience to “help build more companies that are solving important problems going forward.”
Makharinsky has gradually become an Angel investor in his own right investing in companies such as London-based Togethera.
Speaking exclusively to TechCrunch, he said he was parting ways with Ostrovok and his co-founder Serge Faguet “because we had too much overlap in the role which impacted day-to-day disagreements.”
Asked if the move was affected by Russia’s controversial moves in Ukraine recently and the potential impact it may have on business in the region, he said: “It would be fair to say that I wanted us to have a global, rather than Russia-focused, approach sooner — that’s probably the only tangentially related aspect.” Although he says it “seems like it’s all related given the timing,” but no, it had no impact.
“The political situation doesn’t affect consumer internet companies based in Russia at all really, apart from fundraising which luckily we’re not in the market for right now,” he told us.
Online hotel-booking startup Ostrovok — founded by Makharinsky and Faguet, former Google and Slide employees — now handles hundreds of thousands of hotels in over 200 countries and counts Yuri Milner, Accel Partners, Esther Dyson and Atomico Ventures amongst its investors. It aims to become a combined version of Hotels.com / Priceline / Booking.com, starting with Russia and surrounding states.
Here’s his Facebook post in full:
After 4 years since moving back to Russia, I wanted to announce that I am no longer working full-time at Ostrovok. I’ll still be on the board of directors and supporting the company as much as I can, but full-time I am no longer with the company.
I move on with great hope as to what will happen with Ostrovok. We’ve built one of the best and motivated teams in Russia of 200 people, who have managed to already build what many feel is the best hotel booking product anywhere. Our current cash position will take us to profitability within a year, and revenues are growing at almost 20% every month. The team have built a platform on the back end which has a chance of massively disrupting the (let’s face it, slow-moving!) travel industry globally over the next few years. And I am sure the company will end up achieving what was my motivation all along – a sensational example of the kind of technology company that can be started and built in Russia – a country which is far away (in all senses of the world) from Silicon Valley where I learnt my trade originally.
The last 4 years have been full of amazing experiences but just like any fast-growing company also many mistakes from which I have learnt a huge amount. That’s why I’m exceptionally excited about the future and the prospect of using this experience to help build more companies that are solving important problems going forward.
I am very grateful to Serge Faguet who I started Ostrovok with, and I am very confident that he will lead the company to success going forward. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with such an exceptional team who I’m thankful to for all the fantastic experiences over the last 4 years. I asked the team today to keep pushing our values in driving our culture, so that it doesn’t deteriorate and so that we don’t become like most other companies. I asked them to respect one other, while being honest with each other and not letting problems or opinions go unchallenged. To never forget that we’re building the business for and around our customers primarily, and to always question whether what they did each day is really the best that they could’ve done. Hopefully that’s useful not just for them, but for anyone in pursuit of building great companies, or those pursuing their dreams in general.
Finally, I wanted to give a big thank you to not just the Ostrovok team, but everyone who has been supportive along the way. I look forward to sharing with you the next part of the journey.