Yuri Milner – Space Philanthropy

Yuri Milner, an entrepreneur and investor is the founder and CEO of Mail.Ru Group. He is best known for investing in Facebook, Zynga, and Alibaba at an early age”. In May 2017, Yuri Milner announced the launch of Breakthrough Initiatives, which aims to look for intelligent life in the Universe. He donated $100 million for the project, and more funding might come from private donations. Yuri Milner supports science and technology education, pro-business initiatives, and philanthropic projects.

Milner was born in 1961 in Moscow, Soviet Union. His parents were both professors who worked at Moscow State University. In 1988, he entered the physics program at the Lebedev Institute of Physics and stopped working on his Ph.D. in theoretical physics because he disagreed with high-energy physics theories. Milner was interested in starting a business during his early years in university. During his time as a student, Milner was involved in trading computer games and later started developing software for mobile phones. He founded NetBridge, which offered Internet-based services to allow users to make free calls from their mobile phones to other NetBridge users”.


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In 1990, Milner co-founded Mail.Ru Group, “a internet company that provides free Web mail services to users” The company was funded with a loan from the state-owned bank Vneshtorgbank. In 1996, he left NetBridge and used his profits from the company to invest in the online music portal Mezon.ru. He then went back to work on his Ph.D. thesis, which was related to nanotubes as a new type of material that could have applications in electronics and optoelectronics.

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