No, Google did not try to buy us, says Telegram founder

Reports in the Russian press that Google tried to acquire the Telegram messaging app last year for $1 billion have been firmly rebutted by Telegram founder Pavel Durov. The rumors had been widely reported in the tech press today.

The suggestion was that the now Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, met with Durov a year ago, when Pichai headed up Google product, to made an offer to buy the messaging platform — only for his overtures to be firmly rejected by Durov.

However Durov has very firmly rejected these rumors today.

“Bullshit,” he said, when contacted by TechCrunch to ask about the acquisition rumor. “I haven’t had any acquisition talks or meetings with Google. I am acquainted to Google people and Sundar of course, but acquisition, 1 billion — all of that is false.”

Google has of course long had its own messaging offering, Hangouts, but it’s also had a tough time trying to drive usage of the platform — losing out in the popularity stakes to other messaging giants, such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

That platform, which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion back in 2014, passed the one billion MAUs mark earlier this year. While the younger Telegram, which only launched in fall 2013, has a more modest user-base but has been building momentum — passing 100 million active monthly users this February.

Google declined to comment on the Telegram acquisition rumors when contacted today, with a spokeswoman saying only that: “Google does not comment on rumor and speculation.”

The company has been making some moves to support the adoption of the RCS interoperable messaging standard, perhaps with a view to building its own Android to Android iMessage alternative.