(Bloomberg) — Andrey Andreev pocketed at least $1.5 billion from Blackstone Group Inc. after agreeing last year to sell his stake in the firm behind some of the world’s most popular dating apps, including Bumble.
He’s already moved on to his next act: Stereo, an audio-centric app that allows people to host, listen to and participate in live talk shows from their phones. Andreev and his team in London and Los Angeles plan on rolling out a full version globally this week after recently launching it in the U.S.
“99% of the vision behind the app is now there,” Andreev, 46, said in a telephone interview.
Andreev is betting he can shift the social media landscape with his latest venture. His audio-focused form of social media won’t contain real-life images. Instead, users create personalized avatars for their Stereo profiles. Those who have signed up so far include comedian Jeff Ross, a frequent participant of Comedy Central’s televised celebrity roasts. Users who attract the most listeners to their broadcasts can make as much as $25,000.
“It’s all about your conversation, your voice, your thoughts and what you share with the people listening,” Andreev said. “It’s nothing to do with visual. You don’t have to worry about your appearance.”
Stereo is one of several projects Andreev is working on after leaving MagicLab — as the firm was formerly known — earlier this year with a team of 20 employees as a part of the deal with Blackstone. The private equity giant valued the company at about $3 billion when it acquired a majority stake.
Andreev previously founded Badoo, a dating-focused social network with more than 400 million users, and had planned a listing as recently as last year, with an Instagram post showing him outside Nasdaq’s Times Square location. But an encounter near Blackstone’s London offices — where an executive recognized him — led to a different outcome.
Blackstone had “a nice and beautiful offer,” Andreev previously told Bloomberg. “I couldn’t refuse.”
Andreev and his team came up with the idea for Stereo after the MagicLab deal was completed early this year, taking inspiration from radio talk shows with the aim of revamping the format for smartphone users.
They developed the startup during the pandemic lockdowns. The U.K., where Andreev lives, again finds itself in that situation until December. That’s putting pressure on many businesses, but Andreev said he’s in no rush to recoup his investment.
“I’m not thinking about monetizing it right now,” he said. “We’re focused on building a global community.”
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