Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies continues push into Silicon Valley with ICQ buy


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Digital Sky Technologies (DST), a Russia-based venture capital firm, has acquired AOL’s ICQ instant-messenger platform for $187.5 million, the companies announced on Wednesday.

ICQ was originally founded in 1996. It was acquired by AOL in 1998 for $400 million. Since then, the service has had trouble gaining traction in the increasingly crowded U.S. market. Most of its growth has been overseas, helping it to attract 32 million unique users per month. ICQ is also the most popular instant-messenger in Russia, which contributed heavily to DST wanting to acquire it.


But there might be more to DST’s acquisition. The Russia-based firm acquired a small stake in Facebook last August for $100 million. Back in December, it paid $180 million to acquire a portion of Web-based game developer Zynga, which owns wildly popular Facebook games FarmVille, Mafia Wars and others.

Aside from its current investments, rumors are swirling that DST also plans to invest in location-based service Foursquare.

Exactly what DST has planned is currently unknown. But with such sizable investments in major Silicon Valley firms, it seems that the Russian firm is attempting to impose more influence in California. Whether or not that will translate into major profits on those investments remains to be seen. But by the looks of things, DST might be planning to make headlines in the U.S. far more often than it used to.

-- Don Reisinger