Russian entrepreneur Sergey Grishin is one of the world’s most successful investors. Yet he’s intentionally remained out of the media spotlight that other successful businessmen crave.
Recently, Grishin, co-owner of RosEvroBank and a part-time resident of Los Angeles, sat down with Izvestia, a Russian news outlet, for a rare Q&A to discuss investing, the world economy and the impact of COVID-19 on his investments.
Below is part of that Q&A:
Izvestia (IZ): Your last public interview about economics was in 2008. Why have you not spoken publicly until now?
Sergey Grishin (SG): I just wasn’t up to it. Also, in general, I’ve always avoided publicity. And only now did I want to discuss something. Now is a very interesting time; I feel that now there is something to talk about. I am open to the press and to the public.
IZ: In 2018, a video surfaced in the media in which you, in a video message, ask for American citizenship from Donald Trump. What was this in reference to?
SG: I could receive citizenship at any time – I have a residence permit (Green Card), and have had it for the required period. I have no need to ask Donald Trump for citizenship, I can go through the series of technical processes to arrange it…
IZ: That doesn’t explain the nature of the video at all.
SG: You interrupted me. At the time, I was having difficulties, in my personal life and with my health. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the news about this came out on the same day I filed for divorce.
IZ: And how is this video connected to your divorce proceedings with actress Anna Fedoseeva?
SG: Anya isn’t an actress and never has been. When we met, she was working as an event planner. But they have already slandered me enough in the media. I can only say that I loved, and I suffered for it. I have nothing more to say, while the case is ongoing. I would rather not discuss this.
IZ: Right now you have a number of projects both in Russia and the USA. Has the pandemic affected their enactment?
SG: It is necessary to wait for economic recovery and for economic indicators to return to pre-crisis levels. I hope that by the end of this year we will remember this time like a bad dream. I should point out that both governments are doing a lot to support the economy – Since March, U.S. authorities have poured about $3 trillion of support into the American economy. Taking into account the federal budget and available reserves, Russian authorities have also provided all possible assistance to the population and to business representatives.
IZ: Do anti-Russian sanctions affect your venture capital projects in any way?
SG: It is necessary to understand what kind of sanctions they are and against whom they are imposed. Personally, no sanctions have ever been imposed against me, and therefore I have never felt that I was under any restrictions. Although of course restrictions of any kind are bad for the economy.
IZ: To our knowledge, you advocate for a constructive resolution of the issues between Russia and the USA. Is that true?
SG: I will always advocate for a constructive dialogue. But this is my personal opinion, shared by many Russians living in America. In the U.S. they call us ‘peacekeepers,’ In so saying, I am definitely not ready to make any kind of political statement – as far as American politics, I consider myself merely an observer. Although it is nice to see how during this difficult period Russia and the United States sent each other hundreds of mechanical ventilation devices, which helped save lives.
IZ: What do venture capitalists prefer to invest in and where are the main risks of investiture right now?
SG: I make decisions based on an analysis of the prospects of the companies in question. I prefer to invest primarily in high-tech projects. I can cite as examples two companies oriented towards b2b financial services: Tipalti, an accounting software company, and Addepar, a wealth management platform, which provides their users with a wide range of tools. There is also the interesting Homelight project, which could be called a “hybrid:” its service does not provide brokerage services, but rather allows real-estate companies to find the appropriate broker for the transaction.
In Russia, I am partnered with Goldman Sachs on the Malltech project. Malltech is a development company that provides the complete spectrum of services for the construction and operation of class A buildings, including shopping malls, business centers and warehouses.
IZ: In 2018, Goldman Sachs increased its stake in Malltech to 50%. Does this say something about the attractiveness of Russian business to foreign investors?
SG: In business, everything depends on the specific situation. Russia has always been attractive to foreign investors.
IZ: Do you plan to continue investing in Russia?
SG: If there is a lucrative project, then why not? I would invest with great satisfaction.