Why Bankrupt The Russian Private Space Company Yaliny

Edition vc.ru talked to former employees and Director of the company Yaliny Vadim Teplyakov. In 2013, he proposed to put into orbit 144 of the satellite, which would help to distribute Wi-Fi signal in remote parts of the Earth. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, but in November, the company fired most of the employees and accumulated debts of millions. For three and a half years the company has launched a single satellite, but spent about $4 million.

Former employees say that Yaliny tried to copy the atmosphere of a startup from Silicon valley. On weekends, the staff discussed the books, Friday was a day of silence when nobody was talking to each other, and at some point Teplyakov wanted to hire a corporate massage therapist, but talked him out of it. The company Yaliny was founded in 2013, the Omsk businessman Vadim Teplyakova and his partner Nikita Sherman, former President of “Classmates” and the owner of the game Studio Drimmi. Teplyakov has invested in the project money from the sale of shares in the previous business manufacturing animal feed, as well as attracted investments from individuals — a total of about $1 million.

Teplyakov has traveled and faced with the lack of mobile communication and expensive roaming. “I remember a story when I flew to the Asian country, such as in Indonesia, and there are roaming costs 153 rubles per minute, and 10 minutes of conversation I was spending fifteen hundred rubles. I knew that on a global scale the problem is not solved. A third of the population still does not have a good connection, and another third has no access to mobile communications,” says Teplyakov.

A graduate of the faculty of mathematics, Omsk state University came up with the idea how to solve this problem. You need to create a global satellite infrastructure, which will transmit a signal to a special routers so that they can convert it to Wi-Fi and to distribute on the app. Teplyakov planned that the satellite can transmit data at speeds at least 100 Mbps and the communication speed between the satellites will be 300 Mbps. That he was going to send into space 144 of the apparatus (135 primary and 9 standby).

Estimated partners, the project cost would be about $250 million. American companies also tried to solve the problem with the lack of communication and the Internet in remote places. In 2014, the head of Facebook mark Zuckerberg announced the establishment of a Connectivity Lab, which is engaged in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles on solar batteries. It was reported that they will float at an altitude of 20 thousand meters, and to distribute Wi-Fi signal.

According to estimates Zuckerberg, the implementation of the project will require $60 million. In March 2014, Facebook acquired the British drone manufacturer Ascenta, which developed military drone, setting a world record of being in the air without recharging for two weeks. The company is also involved experts from NASA and the research center Ames, and was also engaged in the preparation of data centers in the framework of the project the Open Compute Project to create a platform for the exchange of information between satellites and subscribers.

At the end of July 2015 Facebook has managed to achieve data transfer speeds with a drone at 10 gigabits per second, and in June 2016, the drone made its first test flight, held out in the air for 90 minutes. Vadim Teplyakov didnt have the resources it company with a market capitalization of $385 billion, and the project looked much bigger. “Satellites can cover the service the entire planet, to provide access to anywhere in the world, including at the North pole, another place. But if you design your infrastructure so that it catered to a lot of users, and at the same time did not require very large investment, then the link can provide enough cheap,” he says.

In 2014 Yaliny planned to sell “space” routers for $150 and charge each subscriber every month for $10. “Our member will be always and everywhere connected, and it will be almost worth nothing. The first generation of our system will be built at the rate of about 20 million active users,” said Sherman.

Teplyakov notes that in three and a half years of existence of the company, it was not profitable and did not earn. At the peak of its form in the state employed 70 people, and monthly operating expenses (including payroll) amounted to 8 million rubles. “The challenge [to earn] is not particularly raised. We came to this issue, but there were different investors.

And it is impossible to do two things at once — and make money, and effectively develop our direction. We had one thing to focus on,” explains Teplyakov. Project sponsors become familiar entrepreneurs Teplyakov, which are monthly put in Yaliny part of their profits in exchange for shares. “Entrepreneurs are the”angels” that conduct business in other regions, and in completely different areas, not space-related.

It is unknown to a wide circle of people, and large businesses. As necessary, they have repeatedly invested in us funds, it was a long process,” said founder Yaliny. For all time of existence of the project sponsors have invested “about $4 million”. To give an exact amount in rubles Teplyakov difficult because of the increased exchange rate differences of Russian and American currency.

By 2016, increased the number of satellites that was needed to launch (from 144 to 520), and the cost of the project (from $250 million to $4 billion). “Initially we were overly optimistic plans, but the more we dug, the more they adjusted,” — said Teplyakov. Yaliny repeatedly tried to attract a major investor who would be ready to give a large sum to develop the technology and wait for 5-7 years before the idea of “shoot”.

Such a person could not be found, notes and Teplyakov, his former partner Alexander Panov, responsible for marketing and development Yaliny. According to Panov, is constantly changing and the technical characteristics of satellites. Employees who left at different times, asked each other joke question. “What if you weighed a satellite?”.

First, the satellite weighed dozens of kilograms, then the account went on hundreds of kilograms and at the end of one satellite was to weigh 2.5 tons. It just says that if in practice youre wrong on the order, or two orders of magnitude, then you ******* (bad — ed. Ed) the inventor.

According to the former HR Director Yaliny Daria Owlboy, Teplyakov positioned Panova as a partner and not as an employee. He met him in early 2015 — he was also linked with the theme of the space and talked to some engineers Yaliny. According to Teplyakov, while Panov was the art Director of the advertising Agency A-Promotion, he became interested in space project, and he suggested the use of marketing opportunities for your Agency to organize a press conference, which eventually took place in autumn 2015. “He also proposed to invest.

Originally it was that he invested a million dollars in our company,” says Teplyakov. Version Panova different. According to him, first he arranged for Yaliny press conference, then Teplyakov invited him to become a partner of the company, to take the post of Director of marketing and development. And at the end of 2015, when Teplyakov failed to attract a major investor, the entrepreneur began to take the money borrowed from employees.

“The leaders took, in my particular. Were talking millions. It made no sense just to take less,” — said Panov. According to Oulevay, she heard Teplyakov borrows money from the employees.

“It was not any large amounts. For example, a person comes and says. “Imagine, I got paid yesterday, and today Vadim came to me and shot ten””. The entrepreneur claims that the money from employees is not occupied, but confirmed that he took a loan from Panova — 3 million rubles, which subsequently returned with interest.

For appointment to the position of lords refused to pay. Work in Yaliny he combined with work in the Agency. In the project space in his job was “making all that produces the company” and the organization of events.

“Conventionally, it had to look beautiful, but not so when the engineer makes something beautiful, and it turns out badly. I was not interested and did not touch the content I was interested in the wrapper,” he said. According to Teplyakov, gentry purposely became a partner and took advantage of his gullibility. First, he promised to invest in the company a million dollars, but then it turned out that kind of money he does not have.

“He said he will invest some small amount. From 500 thousand rubles per month to a million. In the end, he twice made these transfers totaling 1.4 million,” he says. In addition, claims Teplyakov, for the solution of marketing tasks and organization of the presentation of the gentry were attracted to members of their Agency A-Promotion, for which he later was fined 3 million rubles.

Teplyakov and paid the bill. In January 2016, the lords decided to leave the company. According to Teplyakov, this was due to the fact that he was not willing to wait until the project is completed and receive the first profit. According to Panov, hes tired of the chaos and mess that is happening in Yaliny and left after the failure of presentation of a new product.

When the company has virtually no money left, Teplyakov decided to try to earn. “The idea to use the achievements for our spacecraft to create a base communication station that could be used in cellular networks, but it would be better than any cellular network,” he explains. The project called 4.5 G.

Teplyakov wanted to construct antennas of the new generation, which would be more efficient than the existing base stations and sell them to operators — Beeline, MTS and MegaFon. Yaliny engineers have developed a prototype, and Teplyakov instructed the roster to arrange a presentation for potential customers and investors. “We came up with to take place in “Moscow-city”, as high as possible, put the antenna as a test to distribute the signal to a territory that never would never could cover no repeater — height. Conventionally, to take and cover Wi-Fi all the Dorogomilovsky district of Moscow skyscraper,” says gentry.

It would be a beautiful story, when a couple of guys with phones without SIM cards go in different directions from the “Moscow-city”, and the participants communicate with them through Wi-Fi. The idea was to hang a phone to a balloon and launch it into the stratosphere, because after some distance the mobile connection stops working and it would guarantee that we do not use mobile communication. That is, it had to look “wow”.

However, the presentation was constantly delayed and postponed due to technical errors. “I understand once or twice to cancel a presentation because of the novelty of the product, but if it is cancelled six times, it means that the development Department — full plate. The presentation was held without my participation, but I was told that it was held in superusacasino form,” says gentry. Teplyakov not agree — the presentation was postponed “only three times”.

According to Panov, the delay of the presentation was the last straw. His faith in the success of the project faltered earlier. In September 2015, the company has arranged a press conference for scientists, potential investors and journalists. There he overheard conversations researchers, who argued that the project is viable Teplyakova.

“They talked about the engineering problems that I didnt. For example, that the satellites had to transmit information to each other through an optical communication line, and this line, as experts say, will not work. What a companion simply does not fall into the other laser, to transmit information,” says gentry. For all this the system required that amount of innovation that cant afford no company less conditional Google.

Teplyakov disagree again. According to him, the project has familiarized people which is “practical experience with satellite communication lines” and he “gave a high evaluation” after the company removed comments. “He said we are fine, everything works. The name of this person Grigoriev, it is for GLONASS was developed by the inter-satellite communication lines.

This is the only practitioner on space optical links”, — says Vadim Teplyakov. Gentry left the company in February 2016. He demanded the return of the invested funds — 1.4 million rubles. Teplyakov did not object, but set a condition that will give money only after either sell the company or attract a major investor.

“Vadim wrote in the mail a long, beautiful letter about the fact that I have to be patient yet a little while, that in two weeks this question will be closed,” says gentry. I had an idea about the period within which this can happen. And I expect Sasha. It was my mistake to speak about any terms, because everything depended not only on me.

In the end, the company has not sold, no large investor has not entered, and the money Sasha I have not returned. Return them out of pocket I do not consider it right and fair. Former partners Teplyakov reproach him that he had made all the wrong business decisions, which ultimately led to the failure of the company. According to Panov, the company already was in financial trouble, but Teplyakov decided to increase the staff and introduce a “flat” organizational structure where all the engineers would have obeyed him, but the production issues are resolved between themselves.

To this end, he hired the HR Director Daria Awolowo who had experience with the “flat” structure in the telecommunications sector. By October 2015, Yaliny worked more than 50 people, and later this number increased to 70 people. “Throughout, I said “flat” structure to use incorrectly. This is nonsense.

For example, when a person has a question, he will wait for the opportunity to talk with Vadim for a week or two,” says gentry. According to the former Director of marketing, Teplyakov argued his position by the fact that one of the founders of Google “at some point in the submission was 180 engineers, and hes nailed it”. “People can normally manage a family-ten people max. If you have the discipline anymore, you just no longer enough time to distribute all the tasks and answer the questions,” he says.

According to Teplyakov, he first played the role of technical Director, but when he had to deal with marketing, media liaison and other tasks, it has ceased to have time to follow the development. Creating a flat structure, it is expected that engineers will command themselves to make technical decisions. The failure of the experiment he accuses Awolowo. “Darias task was to participate in the organization of these processes.

With the internal growth she failed to achieve any results. I dont know why. There are a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, the experiment didnt work. Six months later, all came to the conclusion that a flat structure should be abandoned,” he says.

According to Oulevay, encouraging the autonomy of employees, Teplyakov, however, sought to control all decisions. “People often do not understand much of what we do and where we have come,” she says. When Aulova started to work and became acquainted with the corporate culture of the company, it found that the employees were in “an information vacuum”.

She tried to discuss with Teplyakov current state of Affairs and find out who and why invests in the company and where it takes money. “He didnt like such talk. They said its a secret, anyone dont need to know, and it has no effect. I tried to explain that the effect.

That the staff has no sense of stability,” she says. When I arrived, I called the events a “kindergarten”. People are all like adult work, but they are fed sausage and fruit, and there is a folder that brings money. And where do they appear, what they stand for, no one knew, and this bunch did not have.

Teplyakov denies it. According to him, the company has biweekly General meetings have been held, where he talked about the news of the company and each employee could ask him any question. “If Daria got the impression, its difficult to assess what is the reason. Maybe she had problems with communication with me and with other people,” he said.

Teplyakov tried to maintain the morale of the team. He introduced the practice to congratulate the staff happy birthday on behalf of the company, highlighting every present of three thousand roubles. “And on this subject I also with Vadim talked a lot. Said that is not the time to spend money on such things.

I tried to make the employees themselves somehow thrown off — its business as usual,” says Aulova. According to Teplyakov, the company could afford it. “When we had 70 people on gifts spent 200 thousand rubles a year, but payroll and other costs at 8 million rubles per month, 200 thousand a year is not such a high amount. Its quite a reasonable cost that was to show that the company really appreciates those people who work for her,” he said.

However, the first salary Aulova got delayed. It happened in late 2015, when the company began shortages of funding. Teplyakov apologized and said it was the first time in company history. However, in December, started again late payments.

“Of course before the New year people are experiencing, understand what is happening. I forced Vadim to gather employees and talk about everything. I told him. “Even if things are bad, people need to give a clear picture that everyone make their own decisions what to do next”,” she says.

Despite debts Teplyakov has not abandoned the expansion of the state. “In December, and in January and February and even in March we continued the search for people. In April, I could not resist. Came and said to him.

“We have big delays in salary payment. So, people will not look. I cant take on that responsibility”. And then we, thank God, stopped looking for people,” says Aulova.

According to Panov, the companys corporate culture was a lot of borrowing from Western start-up environment. For example, the guide distributed to the employees of books that need to read and to participate in collective discussion. Also in the office was free tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit, and in addition, the company planned to hire a massage therapist for example Apple and Google, however, Teplyakova dissuaded from this idea. Here is what I think.

You cant run start-UPS, holding the image in my head from books about startups from Silicon valley. We must not deify Google if you have no turnover in one billion. However, the leader cared about the health of subordinates. He introduced the practice of daily charging, “all would sit at the computers”. “I think for staff there was a free pool and gym at the expense of the company,” says gentry.

According to Panov, Friday was a “day of silence” and employees were forbidden to talk with each other. “No one was called for lunch, everyone was supposed to sit quietly and work. Distract it was impossible because man could make a mistake and it could cost spacecraft,” he says. From Teplyakov another version.

On this day, the engineers worked on those projects that they dont have time to do during the week because “they were distracted by the drinking of tea”. “Often happened so that people cant work because someone always pulls. Accordingly, we had decided that on Friday no one pulls all the talk is prohibited and you can deal with the challenges on the project,” he says. Former executives say that the company employs competent professionals.

“It was a lot of great engineers, right wild. The company all came up for the idea. She seemed all cool and the guys really tried to do something cool,” says gentry. “Getting people, lovers of their profession and their business. And objectives the people were interesting, and they all came from some KB with a dream.

Another thing is that they still had no one to manage, so was a complete lack of control” — says Aulova. According to the Director of personnel, Teplyakov came to work in three to four hours of the day and worked late. “The first few months of letters from him and the night came. He said that a effective night and day ineffective”.

Teplyakov insists that he actually came into work after lunch, but it was not a regular practice. “You have to understand that the work of the head is also meetings, e-mail, work with documents”. He also notes that sometimes he preferred to work outside the office because of “an endless stream of people who always want something”.

If you were a Director of the company with a staff of 70 people, you would see what a flood of complaints. And all you need to decide quickly. It and technical issues, and issues leases, contracts, legal, accounting issues. In addition, we had a free schedule. The mode has been shifted.

I could leave at two in the morning, or later. Could be meeting at 10-11 PM. It was so easy to work with many engineers, including me. According to entrepreneur, the organization was limping due to the fact that the company grew and hired in the summer of 2015 for 10 people per month. However, she could not be hired as the project in the space industry required the participation of many experts.

“Somewhere were distortions, some problems, but, nevertheless, development progressed, and there are concrete results in many technologies. Of course, this is all thanks to the brilliant engineers who have worked. I think everything was done as efficiently as possible to the stage, and I dont know how it could be done better and organized,” says Teplyakov.

According to Panov, during the operation, the company never paid taxes from the wages of employees, therefore, at the request of the tax service she had blocked Bank account. “When I came, he was already blocked. Therefore, the company had issued the entire salary in cash. The office runs through Auntie and gave all the money. I think that now the company only for tax debt of 25 million rubles”.

Teplyakov refused to comment on the amount. He also noted that there is nothing illegal in the payday cash no. “When there is no money, you need something to save. Once youve saved, the company you will survive, and tomorrow things will get better, everything will turn out.

One of the things which had to save the payment of taxes. Several times we were saved and underpaid. This really was a problem with the account”. According to Oulevay, for the first time about the intention to close the company Teplyakov told her in March 2016.

He planned to announce it to the rest, but the next day he allegedly failed to find an investor who wants to invest in Yaliny. “I said. “Vadim, it may be better to pay people to finish?”. But he was not discouraged, so to speak, and went on.

And took strange decisions — people are not paid a salary, and he planned to move at some superfish,” says Aulova. According to Teplyakov, at that moment he was looking for a spacious office to accommodate two companies. Besides the fact that the investor was going to invest in Yaliny money, he had a business in the insurance industry, which he allegedly wanted to pass Teplyakova under the control of. In addition, he denies the fact that the mass of wage arrears.

“Except for a few people, the employees.”. However, the case involved the wife of the investor. According to Oulevay, she came to the company and said that Yaliny large debts, her husband changed his mind and would not invest. She also tried to entice employees and left them to their contacts. “And Vadim, standing in front of the team, began to speak.

“You misunderstand me, I will go back to talk to her husband. Is it something not in the subject”. It was just a tent some”. Teplyakov suggests that the pair was able to deceive him.

Under the pretext of investing the investor sent technical experts who conducted the audit, and then his wife, so that she stole from the company valuable professionals. “I asked her. “What about our agreement?” And she said that her husband initially was not going to invest, but he has this way of communicating — it is never tough not deny, and I hear one thing, but actually it is not so. I am humbled,” says Teplyakov.

According to the businessman, left the team for “three or four” people, but the key employees to entice failed. Meanwhile, morale was falling. “Everything stopped. Before something was done, Vadim continued to speak eloquent speech. But in my head did not fit.

How can you falsify the facts or to understand what is going on,” says Aulova. Many believed until the last, well, right up to the last. There were a few systems engineers, with whom we team invigorated. Vadim rarely began to appear in the office, and we somehow took over this function — “cheerful”.

Few even quit. All actually sat and waited. Even when I quit all sat and waited. In may 2016 Teplyakov told staff that the company was having problems with the private investors that month were invested in the company. “Those people had their difficulties, crisis, sanctions.

Therefore, they are unable to Fund us in the right amount,” he says. The owner once again decided to look for a larger investor, including in the West. “In Russia, unfortunately, do not want to invest in such projects. And if were talking about the Western companies and funds, they especially Russia do not want to communicate.

We spent several months in California, met with several investors spoke about what we do, showed examples of. They said. “Yes, wonderful, wonder, come to US, and we here will do it. Everything will fly. But in Russia we are not ready to invest”,” — says the entrepreneur.

When it became clear that a major investor is not to find, Teplyakov decided to cut costs. “I realized that I needed to move out of a large office, which was on Clean Ponds, it is necessary to drastically reduce staff. And earn money independently with the help of some small projects using the designs we created before. And then, already earning, you can return to the idea of a global”.

Since the summer the companys debts to employees began to accumulate. Teplyakov did not disclose the amount of debt. According to estimates Panova, she can make millions of rubles. By November 2016 the company was working less than 10 people.

“I thought that we should all dismiss and go on, postponing the global launch of the spacecraft, and start the real business. Not to be a startup, who lives on investments, and to do just normal work for the business — to conclude contracts, to sign contracts, collect devices, get money. From the end of November-beginning of December were doing,” says Teplyakov.

Now he is engaged in the development of devices for aerospace and aviation industry. His goal is to pay off the debts and for return on investment. By estimations of the businessman, the first “serious results” will appear in March 2017. Teplyakova former partners speak of him as a good man but a bad leader.

“Hes a very smart guy, but too cocky. He really believes that well versed in space industry by reading 30 books. Doubt. Probably need to do something more than just reading. Otherwise, everything in this world easier,” — said Panov.

“I first met such an intelligent man. He quickly understands technical things, but he has no experience of the Manager to build a team. I think having read the books, he wanted to be like Steve jobs. But he couldnt do it.

He has very high ambitions and expectations for themselves, and in some point when he has ceased to cope with all this, I think, he himself was not able to admit it. And it turned out a gamble, its not called”, — concludes Aulova. Edition vc.ru thanks Intern Daria Igumnov for their help in preparing the material.

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