There is rumor in Ukrainian online media today that Google is acquiring Bigmir)net, the largest Ukrainian portal with over 2.5 million unique monthly users. I recall that Anil Hansjee, Google’s Head of Corporate Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa told me last year they sort of missed an opportunity in Russia, a neighboring country to Ukraine by not buying into Mail.ru, a Russian web portal and free web mail provider with over 30 million unique monthly users.
Instead, Naspers, a South Africa-headquartered media and Internet group, acquired a 30% stake in Mail.ru in 2007, valuing the business at $1 billion last September.
Bigmir)net is a kind of “Mail.ru of Ukraine”. Alexa rates Bigmir.net as the most popular site in Ukraine. Bigmir)net was launched in September 2000. It uses the leading Russian search engine Yandex to power its search results. Bigmir)net was developed by Bigmir-Internet, a part of the Ukrainian media group KP Media. The group reported revenues of $15 million in 2006. KP Media raised $11 million via initial public offering of 20 percent of its shares on the Ukrainian stock exchange PFTS in July 2006.
Likely, Google is not missing the big opportunity this time. By acquiring Bigmir)net, Google would become the market leader in Ukraine, a 47 million Eastern European country. The deal could be worth some $100 million if one implied a value per user paid in a recent acquisition of a stake in Mail.ru by Naspers.
While Silicon Valley may be ignoring the rest of the world, the Russian private equity funds recently invested into several major Ukrainian online services. The online advertising spending in Ukraine were expected to reach $12 million in 2007. The country has some 7.5 million Internet users.