#2 — Tech issues, AirSlate, reading history, and living in Estonia

The second issue of The Next newsletter with takes on AirSlate, Kennedy, Croatia and Estonia. Also, a rant on technical issues!

You might notice that the previous email has not reached your inbox. Not the best way to start a newsletter, but I have an explanation that may teach you something.

So, The Next runs on Ghost CMS. I use a self-hosted edition, meaning I oversee infrastructure. For hosting, I stick with DigitalOcean — it has intuitive documentation and a pre-configured Ghost installation image for droplets. You can sign up via my referral link and get $100 in credits. Emails are handled through Mailgun, and that’s where the problem lies. Mailgun flagged my account as suspicious without notifying me and limited the delivery to 10 emails per batch.

Apparently, I need a reputable sending history to lift the limitation. So, I will get creative to deliver this  edition to each of you. Let’s hope for the best and if you follow my steps in setting up an independent publication, consider subscription-based Ghost, which will start at $11/month and require little to no maintenance.

Anyway, that’s all on technical rants. Let’s get to business.

The case of AirSlate

AirSlate, formerly known as PDFfiller raised $51.5M at a $1B+ valuation, reports AIN.Capital. The company was quickly titled the fourth Ukrainian unicorn, which sounds odd to me. The number of Ukrainian unicorns was always an open question.

AirSlate has a dev-HQ in Kyiv with 800-1000 employees, and its founder Vadim Yasinovsky was born there. His family moved to Sankt-Peterburg and then emigrated to the US, where Yasinovsky launched a few software businesses before meeting Borya Shakhnovich, an emigrant from Russia, who turned PDFFiller into a powerhouse of documents management and robotic process automation. The company always relied on Ukrainian devs and bore all the consequences of the country’s recent history, first moving its devs from Donetsk in 2014 and now running a business under air raid sirens in Kyiv.

Is it a Ukrainian unicorn? I don’t know, and what are the previous three: Grammarly, GitLab, and People.ai? OK, but what about Ajax? And Rozetka, by our estimations at Forbes, was valued at $1 bln before the invasion. Moreover, Wise has a technical co-founder from Ukraine, and RingCentral, established in the US by an emigrant from Odesa, was named a unicorn in 2019.