Slush has revoked €1M prize for Russian-founded Immigram
A few days ago, Immigram, a Russian-founded startup that helps tech specialists, including Russian ones, relocate to the UK, won the Slush 100 Pitching Competition. It was awarded with €1 million investment, coming from five top venture capital funds — Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA, and Northzone.
The decision to award a startup (it has a Russian team, some of whom still live in Russia), which assists Russians in escaping from Western sanctions and avoiding responsibility for the full-scale war, came the same week when Russia launched massive missile attacks on Ukrainian cities. It has deeply shocked Ukrainian and Europe’s tech community. The fact that Immigram continues to hire in Moscow, which was found out by AIN.Capital, added more fuel to the flame.
“I don’t want to judge if it’s a good or a bad business. But recognising a Russian startup, which is currently hiring in Moscow, at such a serious event, with the applause of top VCs… it’s not only a PR shot in the foot, but most of all, a very real shot in the back of the Ukrainians,”Borys Musielak, Founding Partner at SMOK.vc, commented the situation to Sifted.
The criticism forced Slush and the investors to do due diligence on Immigram and to look into the founders’ backgrounds. As the results, Slush has reconsidered its decision and revoked €1 million prize for immigram.
The full backstory can be found in our previous article.
Meanwhile, the story forced the Immigram founder and CEO Anastasia Mirolyubova to express clearly the startup’s position towards the full-scale war.
“I indeed can not understand all the horror Ukrainians are facing now. But I truly emphasise and stand with Ukraine. We do not support the aggression and the invasion and never have,” she wrote on LinkedIn, promising to donate $100 000 to the Ukrainian NGO (in comments, which are now closed, Mirolyubova named U24 or Tabletochki fund).
Saying things like “we stand with Ukraine etc.” isn’t enough and won’t be enough. Especially, for UK-based Russian-founded startup with team in Russia, which continues to hire there.