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 pitch competition. The decision follows many complaints on the award, with many arguing that the European technology scene should not support companies with any Russian ties.
“According to the new information about the many activities of the Slush 100 Pitching Competition in Russia, Slush has decided to cancel their victory,” the organization of the competition. said in a statement on Monday.
“Slush has asked participating funds, who are currently doing their own research, to pull their investment into Immigram.”
As the winner of the pitch competition, Immigram, which helps tech talent (including Russian) to relocate to the UK, was in line to receive €1m 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 apologizes for the inconvenience. We had to review all the activities of the participants before they were allowed to enter the competition.
Immigram has also bowed out
In a statement posted on LinkedIn on Monday before Slush announced 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 relocated to the UK in 2016. The startup helps tech talent from over 10 countries , including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, India and the US, apply for the UK talent visa worldwide.
Not long after Immigram won the pitch competition, photos surfaced of a Russian job board that appeared to be recruiting for roles in Moscow. The company says it does not have a company in Russia or any employees there, and has not taken any money from Russian investors. It is said that people are being hired in Russia but only under the condition that they will soon move to another country. Mirolyubova said 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 correspondent, based in Warsaw. He tweeted @zosiawanat