Telegram was launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair founded the Russian social network VK, which they left in 2014 after it was taken over by President Putin's allies. Pavel Durov sold his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after resisting government pressure.
Nikolai Durov created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel Durov provided financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund. Telegram Messenger states that its end goal is not to bring profit, but it is not structured as a non-profit organization.
Telegram is registered as both a British LLP and an American LLC.