Russian-Speakers in Tech Rebuild Their Lives in San Francisco

With the hope of boosting the start-up market in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union – he soon established a non-profit social network for entrepreneurs named Mesto – the Russian word for place -. As he started his new start-up, Duplicate, aimed at identifying market fraud for non-fungi tokens, contracted with a team of artificial intelligence engineers spread across Russia.

He also invested in several Ukrainian start-ups. One of them was Reface, an AI company recommended by Mr. Podolyanko. Last summer, they met with other companies and colleagues in Kiev, both of whom attended a boat party hosted by a group of Ukrainian technologists and investors. Mr. Podolyanko brought in his girlfriend, Stacey Antipova, a Ukrainian financial analyst.

It was a journey they now look back on with indifferent affection. Six months later, Russia invaded.

After the invasion, Ms. Antipova fled Ukraine and moved to Tijuana, Mexico, where she was able to enter the United States as a refugee. He now lives at Dobridom. “When I first went downstairs to have breakfast,” Mr. “I didn’t know what to say,” Doronichev recalled.

Sitting in the backyard with her new home companions last afternoon, Ms. Antipova was also unsure whether to speak. “I did not plan to leave so soon,” she said. “I’m just trying to fix my life, to figure out what I want to do, because I’ve left the rest of my life behind.”

Around the table, Dasha Kroshkina, another Russian-born entrepreneur, explains that she is working to move employees out of both Russia and Ukraine and is scrambling to resume her company’s service, StudyFree, in Africa and India. When the war broke out, many of its clients – students seeking scholarships and grants at foreign universities – were in Russia.

“We are all shocked,” said Mikita Mikado, another Dobridom housemate who migrated from Belarus. “But trauma is different for each of us.”

Mr. Mikado and Mr. Doronichev is now working with his own staff to accept Russian citizens without visas outside of Russia and in European and Asian countries, but not all are willing or able to leave. Both entrepreneurs will sever ties with whoever they are.

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