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Yuri Borisovich Milner was born in a family of Russian intellectuals of Jewish origin. His father was the scientist-economist BZ Milner (1929-2013), while his mother was Betty Iosifovna Milner, who worked in the sanitary-epidemiological laboratory in Moscow.
Milner began his career as a physicist. In 1985 he graduated from the Department of Physics of the Moscow State University with a degree in theoretical physics. After graduating, he worked at the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences, in the Department of Theoretical Physics, under the direction of Vitaly Ginzburg, who would later receive a Nobel Prize.
According to Milner, "disappointment in itself as in physics" led him to make a sudden change to his life and career. He emigrated to the United States, where he left in 1990 to enter the Wharton School of Business,
In 1992-1995 he worked at the World Bank, where he was an expert in the Russian banking system in the private sector development department. He gained experience as an entrepreneur when he became the CEO of an investment brokerage company. Since December 1996, he worked as vice president and head of the investment department at Menatep Bank. In February 1997, he became the vice president of the board of directors and head of the Investment Department of the "Menatep" bank.
Between 1997 and the year 200, Yuri Milner served as CEO of the New Trinity Investments Investment Fund. At this time, Milner read about the business opportunities offered by the Internet, so he had the idea of undertaking on the web.
In the initial investment for the company, Milner turned to Grigory Finger, whom he met in Menatep and who is now out of the Russian branch of the American investment fund New Century Holding (NCH). The fund agreed to invest $ 4.5 million on the condition that Milner and Finger invest $ 750 thousand each with personal funds. In 1999, Milner, Finger, and NCH created the NetBridge VPN tool.
In 2000, Milner became President of Netbridge Services LLC (netBridge). With the idea of replicating several American Internet models in Russia, the company undertook different projects, such as the online auction site Molotok.ru, a service similar to eBay. He also created a free web hosting company called Boom.ru that bore a lot of similarity with GeoCities, in addition to creating an online store 24 × 7 in the style of Amazon.
Milner took the position of CEO of the Mail.ry company in February 2001, when the netBridge and Port.ru companies merged to create Mail.ru. From 2003 to 2005, he served as CEO of Neftyanoy Concern Management Company LLC, at which time he participated in oil speculation.
When NCH abandoned Interne's Russian projects, Milner founded the Digital Sky Technologies (DST) investment fund. In 2006, he became chairman of the Digital Sky Technologies board. With the desire to focus on international projects, Milner resigned from the board of directors of Mail.ru.
Currently, Milner's fortune is estimated at $3.5 million. He is a Global Internet Investor, with interests in companies such as Twitter, Alibaba Group, Whatsapp, or Facebook.
In 2012, Milner announced the establishment of the Breakthrough in Fundamental Physics Award, which became the highest scientific award in history and exceeded two to three times the value of the Nobel Prize.
In 2015, Milner announced the launch of the innovative initiatives in a science program, which gives recognition to astronomical research. In that same year, Milner announced with the Khan Academy the Breakthrough Junior Challenge to recognize young people between 13 and 18 years.