Tech billionaire Jonas Nordlander is famous for the formation and operation of the billion company Avito, together with Filip Engelbert.
Nordlander was one of the key players behind the build-up of the Tradera auction site, which was sold to US Ebay 2006 for $65 million.
He then started Avito as a Russian Blocket copy in 2007. In the spring of 2010, Avito took the first round of around $28 million from Northzone and Kinnevik.
Avito is Russia’s answer to Craigslist, Zillow and Autotrader all-in-one, is as much a cultural phenomenon as a business. It’s one of the largest online destinations in Russia, and the second largest classifieds site in the world.
Jonas says despite being settled and working in Sweden, he chose to set up a company in Russia because, after the sale of his previous company to eBay, Russia was the only country where his ‘non-compete’ did not apply.
When Avito entered the Russian market, there were no online marketplaces or a glossary of tradesmen of any kind and the demand for such a service was huge. Avito is now central to how Russians buy and sell almost everything — from houses and cars to pets, clothes and furniture.
In 2019, South Africa’s Naspers spent $1.16bn to take control of the remaining 29.1% of the company that it did not own, buying Nordlander and Engelbert out of the company.
Writing about the exit on LinkedIn, Nordlander said the outcome was an “EPIC ending to a fantastic story that began in Moscow late 2006 early 2007 and ended with a company of great daily impact and importance to tens of millions of Russian citizens and millions of Russian companies.
“We will continue to invest in companies through our investment vehicle Otiva.se with some +20 companies which is run by CEO Adrian Imreorow and also look at other opportunities.”