Semyon Dukach. Games businessmen play
On September 17, a lеcture by Semyon Dukach — a legendary blackjack player and general director of the company SMTP.com – took place in the Digital October center. Semyon talked about how experience in playing helped him to become a successful businessman.
A native of Moscow, Semyon Dukach moved with his parents to the United States at the age of 11. At the beginning of the 1990s, he studied programming at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For several years, he was a member of MIT’s blackjack team, which used mathematical modeling in the game and beat the casino repeatedly. The writer Ben Mezrich wrote the book Busting Vegas (2007) about Semyon Dukach.
Dukach does not think of himself as an avid card player, calls casinos “evil,” and says that his participation in games was a science, not a game of chance. At the end of the 1990s, he stopped playing blackjack and became involved in business. In 1997, he founded his first software company, Fast Engines, which he sold as early as in 2007 for $35 million, then however losing most of his money in the dot.com bubble.
In 2002, he acquired the company SMTP, which is currently the main supplier of cloud services for improving delivery of email (the company’s revenue in the second quarter of 2012 reached $1.35 million). Semyon Dukach also participates in more exotic enterprises: in particular, he is investing in development of a “road airplane” (flying automobile) by the company Terrafugia. Dukach’s plans include “earning a couple of billion” and then trying to help the world.
In his lecture at Digital October, Semyon talked about how blackjack helped him to acquire a talent for risk management and achieve entrepreneurial success. He also shared how cards let him hone the art of business planning.
Grishin Head of Russian Go and Strategy School, expert in Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
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