Startup conference Slush has decided to reverse its controversial decision to award Immigram, a startup founded by two Russian citizens, the top prize in its pitching competition. The decision comes later a critical mass on the award, and many argue that Europe’s technology scene should not become companies with any Russian ties.
Competition organizers, “In light of new information about the level of operation of the Slush 100 Pitching Competition winner in Russia, Slush has decided to revoke their victory. said in a statement on Monday.
“Slush has asked participating funds, which are currently undergoing individual evaluations, to withdraw their investments from Immigram.”
As the winner of the competition, Immigram, which helps tech talent (including Russia) move to the UK, was in line to get €1 million in investment from five leading international VCs: Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA and Northzone.
None of the companies responded to Sifted’s request for comment on the investment at the time of publication.
The Slush statement added: “Slush regrets the oversight. We should have reviewed the operations of all participants more thoroughly before allowing them to enter the competition.
Immigram also bowed out
In a statement posted on LinkedIn On Monday shortly before Slush tweeted out its decision, Immigram said it had “opted out” of the competition.
Immigram is a British company founded in 2019 by two Russian citizens, Anastasia Mirolyubova and Mikhail Sharonov, who both moved to the UK in 2016. The startup helps tech talent from over 10 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, India and the. United States, apply for the UK Global Talent Visa.
Shortly after Immigram won the competition, images appeared on a Russian job board that appeared to show him hiring for the role in Moscow. The company says it does not have an entity in Russia or any employees based there, and has not taken any money from Russian investors. He says he hires people in Russia but only under the condition that they immediately move to another country. Mirolyubova said that she is against any Russian war in Ukraine.
“We will continue to support Ukraine and build a company for millions of talented people who want to move internationally,” the company said in a statement.
Zosia Wanat is Sifted’s central and eastern Europe reporter, based in Warsaw. He tweeted from @zosiawanat