Today, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and a small entourage of Russian investors and cabinet level officials toured several premiere Silicon Valley companies in hopes of developing a similar tech center in Russia. Unlike previous older Russian leaders, Medvedev, 44, seems very comfortable and in touch with technology and understands the venture capital streams and risks it takes to launch these businesses. Medevdev met with valley heavyweights such as John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Biz Stone of Twitter. While at Twitter, Medevdev set up a personal account named KremlinRussia and composed his first “tweet” in Russian: “Hello everyone. I am now in Twitter, and this is my first message” (well under the 130 character limit). Other officials toured Google and Facebook and lunched with venture capitalists.
Cisco Systems announced a five phase $1 billion initiative that will pump more venture money into the country’s existing tech economy and re-commit to more Cisco training and product development efforts. Currently the city of Skolkovo serves as Cisco’s second headquarters for Emerging Technology and will be one of the most internet-connected cities in Russia using Cisco’s gear. Medvedev is attempting to bring more diversity to Russia’s healthier but oil-dependant economy. Over the years, many highly educated Russian engineers and programmers migrated to the United States to work due to the limited technology opportunities in Russia. The first challenge for Russia will be creation of bold government initiatives and commitments that will open the floodgates of venture funding. It certainly appears that Dmitry Medvedev is prepared and determined to shake up the establishment to achieve this.