Maintaining a cloud-based service with virtually unlimited space and file uploads of up to 2GB costs money. And yet Telegram is free, it has no ads and no extra features for asking for money or from companies. Then, How does Telegram make money?
The quickest answer to that question is that Telegram does not earn money, although there are certain nuances. While this has been the stance since its inception, the plans for 2021 involve the start of Telegram’s monetization.
Where does the Telegram money come from
This year it exceeded 500 million active users. Active users whose chats are stored forever on their servers, with all photos, videos and files. The recent example of Google Photos gives us an idea of what to maintain the infrastructure for this ever increasing demand for storage costs a lot of money. However, there is no limit for users, beyond the 2 GB maximum size per file.
That, without counting the salaries of the 334 employees that the company has, in addition to various fixed costs, such as offices. Many expenses without asking users or companies for anything in return. Although the application recently launched its payment platform, it does not charge any commission for its use. Today no ads or limited features that need a payment or subscription.
Telegram does not make money for now. It survives mainly from the financing of Pável Dúrov himself
The solution to this riddle comes from the investments, whose figure is estimated at about 1.7 billion dollars in total. The company itself explained the situation like this in its recent questions, until the text was changed recently after the latest monetization announcements:
We believe in fast and secure messaging, which is also 100% free.
Pavel Durov, who shares our vision, provided Telegram with a generous donation, so we have enough money for now. If it sells out, we will introduce nonessential payment options to support infrastructure and fund developer salaries. But making a profit will never be an end goal for Telegram.
That is, until now Telegram survives on donations and Pável Dúrov himself confirmed in a publication on his Telegram channel that the company’s expenses have come out of your savings for most of the app’s history. However, with 500 million users and an eye on reaching a billion, it was time to start earning money to cover expenses or sell the company.
Monetization is on the way
The good news is that Pável Dúrov does not have the slightest intention of selling Telegram, but the plan is to monetize the application during 2021 “according to the values and promises made during the last 7 years”. The idea is to do it non-intrusively, so that most users “hardly notice any changes”.
The promise is that everything that is free today will still be free, but special functions will be introduced for companies and advanced users that will be paid. What functions will be is yet to be seen, but it is possible that in the future we will see something similar to WhatsApp Business, but in Telegram. Or a Telegram Pro, with advanced features.
Telegram plans to start monetizing the application in 2021. Some ideas are functions for companies, advertising platform, channel subscriptions or paid stickers.
On the other hand, the ads will arrive, although not to the private chats. The idea is to create an advertising platform for channels, to replace the ads that are shown today and that often do not differ much from normal publications. These ads will not be personalized for user profiles, but will be contextual according to the theme of the channel in question. In addition, Dúrov clarified that users will be able to opt out of receiving ads.
Other monetization systems for channels that Telegram is working on are donations and subscriptions. Also, another possibility on the table is the introduction of premium stickers, something that has worked very well for example in LINE.
These are all ways to make money that Telegram is exploring for 2021, but which are not yet ready at the time of this writing. To this day, the answer to how Telegram makes money is that it does not make money. At least for now.