Tech

This ex-Googler just got another $30 million to help companies with the ‘art and science’ of hiring exactly who they want

lever ceo sarah nahm

By 2012, Sarah Nahm, a former Googler who had worked as a speechwriter for Marissa Mayer and a designer on the Chrome team, knew she was ready for something different.

There was no “lightning strike” moment of inspiration, Nahm tells Business Insider. She and two colleagues knew they wanted to start a company together. They all had an interest in recruitment and human resources. They just didn’t know exactly what they would do.

Over the course of nine months, the Nahm and her partners worked their networks and embedded within tech companies including Twitter, trying to figure out what problem they could solve.

To Nahm’s surprise, it turned out that she was in the right place at the right time. At all of these companies, they found the same frustrations. The headaches weren’t over anything technical. Instead, the thing these high-growth Silicon Valley companies had a tough time solving was hiring. They wanted the best programmers and the best talent, but the market was just too competitive.

“You’d expect it to be ‘big data’ this or ‘machine learning’ that, but it’s human,” Nahm says.

And so she and her two partners formed Lever. The software startup, under Nahm’s command as CEO, is designed to help with the hiring headaches she saw bubbling up back in 2012.

It seems to be working. Lever counts over 1,000 customers, including Netflix and Cirque Du Soleil, according to Nahm. Lever itself now has over 100 employees.

And investors like what they’re seeing from the company. On Thursday, Lever plans to officially announce that it’s raised $30 million in a Series C venture round. That brings the total amount its raised from venture investors to $62 million.

Nahm says the big question for Lever now is: “How can we connect human potential to meaningful work?

Tools for a changing time

Lever’s launch and growth have come as the very idea of employment is changing, for better or for worse.

Millennials, especially, have earned a reputation for “job-hopping,” jumping from position to position and company to company every year or two as they pursue their own non-linear paths to success.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, there’s a veritable talent war for top-tier engineers. And as software continues to eat the world, even blue-collar jobs like farm work are requiring a growing array of computer skills .

“The future of work is changing, and it’s a pretty dramatic shift,” says Nahm. “People are out here looking for a deeper meaning.”

lever hire

Lever’s goal is to give its customers tools to manage that shift. Its service is designed to help HR departments proactively identify the best people for open positions and figure out the best ways to convince those candidates to join their companies. It also is designed to help companies retain their workers by offering recommendations for how they can keep the employees happy.

Through its tools, Lever is advancing the “art and science” of recruiting top talent, Nahm says.

A big enough lever

What really sets Lever apart, says Nahm, is that it makes hiring collaborative. When people in a company identify a potential job candidate, they can use Lever’s service to flag that person for their colleagues. Lever’s tools will also help figure out who within the company would be best placed to reach out to the candidate.

The system is designed to try to find the person with whom the candidate might best identify and who might stand the best chance of convincing the person to join the company. For example, instead of talking to a recruiter, a hotshot programmer might want to hear from another hotshot programmer about what drew her to the company.

Lever’s analytical tools provide tips to hiring managers about how often they should contact candidates and who on their team might be the most effective at getting through to them. Lever’s service can even give insight on the average time it will take to fill a position.

lever screen

The service is a far cry from what Nahm calls the “dark ages,” when companies would post a job listing and just hope that the right person responded – a process Nahm dubs “post and pray.” Lever is built around the notion that with data and better candidate tracking tools, companies can fill jobs much more intelligently.

‘That’s what I live for’

One of the benefits of Lever’s service is that it can be used by anyone in the company, not just the recruiting team. Opening up recruiting to all workers can help expand the pool of would-be candidates for jobs. And it can help yield a more diverse pool of candidates.

That’s a huge potential benefit, particularly in an era when the tech industry’s lack of diversity has become such a hot topic. Lever itself says that its employees are 50% women and 40% non-white.

Lever plans to use the cash it just raised to make its service even smarter, boosting its analytics and helping companies identify the talent they need, Nahm says. To Nahm, connecting companies to the right people at the right time is a design problem, similar to ones she’s faced in the past.

“That’s what I live for,” says Nahm.

Source: Business Insider

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Infotainment

What will happen to Earth if Humans disappear ?

1) Several hours after humanity disappears lights all around the world will start to shut down. Since most power station work on fossil fuel but without people there won’t be anybody to charge them so they will stop.

2) 48 hours after registering a sudden drop in energy consumption nuclear power plants will switch to safety modes.

3) When mills will keep working until the lubricant runs out a solar panel will also eventually become useless.

4) Nearly every region except for the one supplied by hydro-electric power stations will have their power cut off.

5) On the west of the united states the generators of hoover dam are activated by the water flow from Lake Mead, thus it can be left unattended for several months or even years.

6) Two or three days after Humans vanish from the planet most metros in the world are going to be flooded because the pumps that protect them from the underground waters won’t work without people.

7) After 10 days, pets locked at home will start dying of starvation and dehydration. Billions of chickens and millions of cows, as well as other farm animals, will be dead.

8) In the brutal world of real wildlife, there won’t be a niche for decorative cats and dog breed they will be the first to die out.

9) About a month after Humans disappear all cooling water on nuclear power stations will be evaporated. This will lead to a series of explosions much stronger than the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

10) Millions of animals will die of cancer but overall the planet will recover from the radioactive contamination rather fast and easily.

11) One year after people disappear, strange stars will start to fall from the sky. During our space history, we took dozens of thousands of objects to the Earth’s orbit the highest satellites will fall after many years.

12) After 25 years, three-quarters or all squares and sidewalks will be covered with vegetation.

13) Where there are plants there are herbivorous animals and where there is pray there was always a predator.

14) The surviving dogs will cross with the wolves that come to the former cities.

15) Without us, the air will become much cleaner. In some cities, the visibility range will become several times longer.

16) Cities like Dubai and Las Vegas will be buried in sand the desert will take what belongs to it.

17) After 300 years metal constructions such as the Eiffel Tower or steel bridges will start to break since for all these years there won’t be anybody around to paint and protect from corrosion.

18) Steel rods in armed concrete will bloat up to three times of their initial thickness and the last tall buildings will go down.

19) Vas swamps which formerly occupied America will reappear and hundreds of bird and animal species will return to their unfairly taken home.

20) Large marine animals will also be very glad not to see us. In the absence of humans, Whales will thrive and reproduce to the maximum of the ocean’s capacity to feed them. This is how modern cities will look after 500 years without people.

21) After 10,000 years the only reminiscence that people were here someday will be the remains of a few stone constructions among which the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China, mount Rushmore national memorial will be there, almost intact for several hundreds of thousands of years

22) In 50 million years plastic bottles and pieces of broken glass will be the last traces of our civilization. and In another 50 million years they will be gone as well as you can see our planet is quite sturdy and can get rid of all of our trash.

23) If after 300 million years or later there will be a new rational species, they might not even notice there was a civilization before.

Business

Jim Rogers regrets giving up hope on Modi; says should have been more patient before exiting India

Instilling faith in PM Narendra Modi and his policies, Commodities Guru Jim Rogers on Monday said that he should have been more patient and waited for Modi’s plan to play out before selling his positions in 2015. In a conversation with ET Now he said, “I believed that Modi did nothing but talk, hence I sold out of India. The currency and Indian markets have gone up quite a bit after I sold out”. In 2015 Rogers exited his India investments after giving up on Narendra Modi, saying that the Prime Minister has failed to meet the investors’ expectations. “Mr. Modi ran a successful state. He campaigned for two years, saying he knew what to do. He has been there 15 months, yet little has happened,” he had said in 2015, upon deciding to sell his India assets. Earlier this year, he said that he wanted to invest in India but demonetisation event happened.

Recently he also expressed his desire to enter India again. “If Modi continues doing stuff like GST, then not just me, everybody has to pay a lot more attention to India,” he said in an interview to LiveMint. He also lauded Modi for passing the crucial GST. “On GST, I am amazed, shocked and stunned,” he told the publication.  The biggest tax reform since Independence, GST has been in the works for more than a decade. It will transform the $2 trillion economy and market of 1.3 billion people into a single economic zone with a single national sales tax.

GST will subsume central taxes like excise duty which is levied on manufacturing and service tax as well as state taxes like VAT that is chargeable on sale. Sources said Adhia informed the meeting of the four-slab rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent finalized by the GST Council. He explained how the fitment of different goods and services in these slabs is being done to keep their impact on consumers as well as exchequer neutral.

President Pranab Mukherjee approved four supporting legislations related to GST. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley along with his ministry officials presented a blueprint to the Council of Ministers for launch of the path-breaking GST from July 1 to transform the Indian economy. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia made a detailed presentation to the Council — the supreme executive organ headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on how the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be implemented and the challenges before it is rolled out.

Source: The Financial Express

Earlier in 2015 Jim Rogers said, he was disappointed by Modi so he backed out his investment. Read full article here

World Facts & News

10 areas where INDIA exceeds some of World’s Most Powerful and Developed Countries

indian-army

India is still a developing country and needs a lot to achieve to stand with the first world countries, but there are some specific areas where India stand far away from the developed countries. Below are the 10 reasons that will feel you proud.

1. High Altitude Mountain Warfare

India shares a borders with nuclear-armed archrivals like China and Pakistan known for flawless mountain warfare training. Hence, our Indian army went ahead and became the best in the world. The High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg, Kashmir, is so renowned that mighty armies like the U.S., British and German armies periodically come to train with us. Also, the Indian army’s triumph over the Siachin glacier is nothing short of stupendous gallantry.

2. Undisputed Remote Sensing Capabilities

A few decades ago, India was heavily dependent on satellite data from America. As a result of this slow process, 20,000 people died during the 1999 Odisha cyclone. Fast forward to 2015, India’s remote sensing capabilities are far ahead of that of the U.S. Today, we have satellites backing a variety of applications including groundwater prospect mapping, crop acreage and production estimation, potential fishing zone forecasting based on chlorophyll and sea surface temperature, biodiversity characterization, detailed impact assessment of watershed development projects, generation of natural resources data/information, etc.

3. Most Intelligent Nuclear Program Using ‘Thorium’

While countries around the world struggled to find the replacement for Uranium as a nuclear fuel, India’s nuclear program was already thriving on Thorium. Since India was naturally rich in Thorium deposits, our brilliant scientists made use of it instead of Uranium (Uranium 238) as fuel and surprised the whole world.

4. First Asian Nation And Fourth Country In The World To Reach Mars’ Orbit

The entire world knows about India’s Mars Mission; it needs no introduction. Not only did India become the 1st Asian nation and the 4th country in the world to reach Mars’ orbit but we did it most cost effectively too. At 450 crores, it’s the least expensive Mars orbital mission ever commissioned.

5. The Third Largest Army To Walk On Earth

The more you praise the Indian army, the less it seems. With 1,129,900 active troops and 960,000 reserve troops, the Indian army is the 3rd largest army to walk our planet. Also, it’s an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country’s active defence personnel.

6. Second Largest Number Of Internet Users In The World

Our future rests in the hands of ‘The Internet’ and nobody drives the force of the web other than its users. After China, India has the most number of internet users on the planet. At only 29% penetration, India has 354,000,000 people using the net. This puts us way ahead of countries like US, Japan and Russia where the penetration rate is much higher.

7. Nuclear Assets

In a short span of 66 years, India’s nuclear capabilities have tremendously grown. We rank number one in the development of thorium-based fast breeder reactors; we also have 21 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, having an installed capacity of 5780 MW. Six more reactors are under construction. According to Federation of American Scientists, India has an estimated backlog of 75-110 nuclear weapons.

8. Fourth Most Feared Air Force In The World

With approximately 1,820 aircrafts in service, 905 Combat Planes, 595 Fighters and 310 Attackers, the IAF is the fourth largest air force in the world. This puts us ahead of Germany, Britain and every other developed European country.

9.Second Largest IT Industry In The World

The ultimate rise of Indian IT industry is tremendous.Currently, Indian IT sector is the 2nd largest in the world. Accordingly, in the next coming five yearswe will take over China to be the number one.

10. Contribution Of Yoga And Ayurveda

Debate this as much as you want but yoga has become a rage across the globe. And who else is to thank but India. Yogananda talked about the physical and eternal benefits of yoga that are now being actively confirmed by modern medical science.

Business

WARREN BUFFETT: The hedge fund industry’s biggest profits are going to managers, not their clients

Warren Buffett Fortune

Warren Buffett is not a fan of hedge funds and the high fees they charge clients for the promise of outperformance.

“When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients,” Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter published on February 25.

He added that by his rough calculation, investors have wasted about $100 billion over the past decade in the search for superior performance.

His contention is two fold: active hedge fund managers’ fees crimp returns for their clients, and the promise of outperformance falls short when stacked against the S&P 500.

In fact, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman is on track to win a $1 million bet he made in 2008 with Protege Partners that the S&P 500 index would outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds. In the nine years since, the best-performing fund of funds has gained 62.8%, less than the 85.4% return that the S&P 500 index fund has earned.

Buffett’s position on this is somewhat paradoxical, since Berkshire’s success is largely a result of Buffett and his team’s ability to pick stocks.

In the letter, Buffett said his favorite recommendation for investing is a low-cost S&P 500 index fund. He also said Jack Bogle , the Vanguard Group founder considered to be the father of indexing, has done the most for American investors.

“I estimate that over the nine-year period roughly 60% – gulp! – of all gains achieved by the five funds-of-funds were diverted to the two levels of managers,” Buffett said. “That was their misbegotten reward for accomplishing something far short of what their many hundreds of limited partners could have effortlessly – and with virtually no cost – achieved on their own.”

Buffett added that if passive investors in the index are destined to achieve average results, before accounting for costs, so too would active, more expensive managers. However, it’s the group with the lower costs that will win in the end, and the side with higher costs would see a more substantial shortfall.

He said,

“There are no doubt many hundreds of people – perhaps thousands – whom I have never met and whose abilities would equal those of the people I’ve identified. The job, after all, is not impossible. The problem simply is that the great majority of managers who attempt to over-perform will fail. The probability is also very high that the person soliciting your funds will not be the exception who does well.”

Source: Business Insider

Tech

India Tech Founders – Does Alma Mater Matter?

This post is a continuation of our data story series on tech startup founders in India. Our first article covered founders and work experience as it related to funding, choice of business models, networks and exits. If you missed it, you can read it here.

In this post, we dwell on the much debated topic of founder academic background and gender. Does gender impact the ability to raise capital and also success in subsequent rounds?

How much does founder schooling impact the ability to raise initial capital? Do certain schools have better networks than others? Do some schools produce founders who fare better with specific business models? Which schools have produced more founders with exits to their credit?

You may recall that our study covers a ten-year period starting in 2005, and includes tech start ups that have raised a minimum of $2M in funding. This set encompasses 448 companies and 987 founders. We included both undergraduate and graduate academic credentials of founding teams.

Top schools provide an edge in funding

Of the 448 companies, a total of 158 companies (35%) have one or more founders from an IIT. If IIMs, BITS, and ISB are added to the mix, this percentage increases to 46%. Adding top global schools such as Harvard and Stanford hikes this to 51%. So, one of every two tech start-ups to have raised more than $2M over the past decade has a founder from one of these institutions. The other way to look at it is to say that 50% of all funding is going to founders without an elite school background. It is also illustrative to look at the other 50% that received funding. This group spans a broad range of institutions, including NITs, colleges such as DCE, NSIT, St Stephens, Sri Ram College of Commerce, Loyola College Chennai, College of Engineering, Guindy etc.

There are likely a few different factors at work here. It is possible that tech founders from top schools have a greater appetite for risk and try their hand at entrepreneurship due to better fallback options. All other things being equal (market, idea, approach), investors appear to view academic smarts as a proxy for the ability to solve tough problems. Globally, we see similar stats (Pitchbook global universities), with the top ten undergraduate programs alone spawning 3000 start-ups and attracting $34B in funding since 2010.

Founders from top schools do start with some key advantages. They have strong alumni networks that help with mentorship, seed funding and access to investors. This also helps when it comes to recruiting and building teams. The funding advantage seems to extend beyond initial rounds. Of the companies that raised more than $100M+, nearly 68% have a founding team member from a top school. We also looked at whether the fundraising ability of this group translated into exits. Of the top 15 exits (greater than $50M) in India over the past decade, 60% of them involved start-ups with founders from elite schools.

Correlation should not be confused with causality. One could argue that these outcomes are good but not great given the amount of funding that has gone into start-ups run by such founders. It remains an open question whether founders from elite institutions have a definitive edge in terms of tech ideas, innovation or value creation. Logic would dictate that this is unlikely to be the case.

Entrepreneurial ventures often start as a reaction to a specific problem faced by the founder, a strong passion, or a desire to change the status quo. As the India venture ecosystem enters its second decade, there is some risk that tech founders with similar backgrounds and experiences are susceptible to group think.  Similarly, it’s not too far fetched to argue that investors are also more persuaded by a certain profile of tech entrepreneurs – strong academic credentials, good presentation skills, and pursuit of spaces and business models that have traction globally. This is continually changing as the ecosystem matures to recognise and reward India centric entrepreneurs and solutions as well as greater diversity in founder backgrounds.

Bragging rights for those who care

We classified schools by number of companies founded by alumni, total funding raised, and exits. In terms of number of companies founded, IIT Bombay leads the pack followed by IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur and BITS Pilani. When it comes to fundraising, IIT Delhi replaces IIT Bombay, primarily due to massive rounds raised by Flipkart and Snapdeal.

We further segregated rankings by undergraduate programs, MBA programs and other post graduate programs such as MS, PHD etc. While Indian Schools – IITs, BITS, IIMs and ISB dominate the undergraduate and MBA rankings, global schools figure more prominently in post-graduate founder qualification rankings.

Founder alma mater and choice of business model

It was interesting to explore if schools and alumni networks influence choice of business model – B2C, B2B, and B2B2C. IITs and IIMs occupied the top spots for B2C rankings with companies such as Flipkart and Ola. BITS Pilani and IIT Madras alumni appear more adept at starting and growing B2B/B2B2C companies. IIM alumni don’t have the same level of involvement in the B2B space as compared to B2C. IIM Ahmedabad did not even make it to the top 15 B2B list despite occupying the fourth spot in the B2C list. All of this is relevant as networks available to founders from various schools do influence the pace at which they are able to assemble a team, attract co-founders, hire access investors and learn from those who have tread the path before.

Academic institutions and exits

Out of 448 venture funded companies that have raised $2M+ in our data set, there have been only 38 exits. If we apply a filter of $50M (to make these exits meaningful) we end up with 15 companies as seen in the table. We also included three exits – Directi, Makemytrip, and Jabong – outside of our dataset in this list to make it comprehensive.

It is interesting to note that IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay do not make this cut despite topping the funding lists in terms of number of companies and dollars raised. We would also like to call out that exit numbers balloon if you were to include companies that raised less than $2M in venture funding. Inc42 estimates[1] that there were 140 exits in 2016 alone. That list can be viewed here. However, from our perspective, the vast majority of these exits were not consequential in terms of value and many were acqui-hires.

MBA and tech entrepreneurship in India

One in every two startups in India has one or more founder with an MBA degree while one in every five has a founding team made up entirely of MBA degree holders. Also, 40% of all 448 startups have founding teams with MBA founders in a majority (51% of the founding team). These data points remain almost consistent across funding brackets. The question to debate then is whether an MBA degree contributes to soft skills such as leadership, networking, general business management and team building.

The top three sectors with the highest share of companies led by MBA founders are e-commerce, EdTech, and Travel & Transport at 68%, 63% and 60%, respectively. Enterprise Software and Tools rank second last at 29% on this list.

Women entrepreneurs: High batting average despite fewer opportunities

Only six percent (63 out of 987) of the founders who raised $2M+ in funding since 2005 are women. The number of female founders is growing but nowhere near the volumes everyone would like to see. The lower numbers of 2014, 2015 and 2016 do not paint a complete picture as there are many companies founded in these years that are yet to cross the $2M+ funding qualifier of our dataset.

In terms of companies, female founders are present in 13% of the 448 companies that have raised $2M+.

We checked if female founders were effective in fundraising across brackets. Of 58 companies that had female founders, 59% (34) have raised $5M+, 41% (24) have raised $10M+, 28% (16) have raised $20M+, 16% (9) have raised $50M+, and 10% (6) have raised $100M+. The respective numbers for 390 companies with founding teams without a female founder (orange bar in chart below) is only slightly better. Data seems to validate that female founders are as capable as male founders in raising multiple rounds of capital to fund business growth.

As we noted when we began this series, the objective of this study was to get a data driven view on India’s tech founders and their background – work experience, schooling, gender, networks and choice of business models. The next ten years will likely be very different. Lessons – good and bad, from the first decade will shape a new generation of founders, investors, and companies pursing the massive opportunity for tech led innovation in India.

Source: Bala Srinivasa on LinkedIn

World Facts & News

How Vladimir Putin became one of the Most Feared Leaders in the World

Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has quickly become one of the most powerful and feared politicians in the world.

But he’s had a long climb to the top – he spent years working in Russian intelligence and local politics before becoming the leader of the country.

And Putin could become even more relevant to the US in the coming years. President Donald Trump has often been criticized for cozying up to the leader of a country that is thought to work to undermine Western democracies.

Here’s a look at how Putin rose to power and why some Americans fear him.

Putin’s rise

Early life and KGB career

Putin was born to a working-class family in Leningrad in 1952. His father is a decorated war veteran and factory worker. An only child, Putin grew up in a Soviet Union-style communal apartment with two other families, as was typical at the time.

Growing up, Putin loved spy novels and TV shows. When he was still in school, he went to the KGB security and intelligence agency and asked how he could join, according to the journalist Ben Judah’s book “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin.”

The people at KGB headquarters told him to work hard and study law. So Putin did exactly that, at Leningrad State University, and later spent 17 years as a mid-level agent working in foreign intelligence.

It was during this time that he had an experience that some experts have concluded to be a defining moment in his life.

In Dresden in 1989, an anticommunist mob formed outside KGB offices. Putin recounted that he was told the KGB couldn’t do anything about it without orders from Moscow, and Moscow didn’t say a word.

“The business of ‘Moscow is silent’ – I got the feeling that the country no longer existed,” Putin later said, according to Judah’s book. “That it had disappeared. It was clear that the Union was ailing. And that it had a terminal disease without a cure – a paralysis of power.”

Judah wrote, “For Putin and his generation, those who did not come from intellectual families, who believed what they were told about the USSR’s superpower success, and did not question propaganda, or want what they did not have – that moment was a defining scar.”

As president, Putin is known for his nationalism and patriotism – traits that can be traced back to his youth. A profile of Putin that ran in The Washington Post in 2000 said he once refused to read a book by a Soviet defector because he didn’t “read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland.”

The beginnings of a political career

By 1991, Putin had officially resigned from the KGB’s active reserve. He was back in Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg, and working for the city’s first democratic mayor (and his former law professor) Anatoly Sobchak.

Putin worked mostly behind the scenes and kept a low profile. He reportedly was “the man to see if things needed to get done” and “Sobchak’s indispensable man.”

Judah wrote that Putin got his political technique from Sobchak, who was known to have strong authoritarian tendencies.

Putin was loyal to Sobchak. When Sobchak wasn’t reelected as mayor, the victor offered Putin a job. But Putin turned it down, saying, “It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal.”

In 1996, Putin and his family relocated to Moscow. There, he quickly climbed up the ladder and became the head of the FSB, the agency that succeeded the KGB, in 1998. Boris Yeltsin, then the president of Russia, named Putin to this position.

Newsweek reported that it was “a job the president would have given only to the most trusted of aides.”

Prime minister appointment and first presidency

In August 1999, Yeltsin appointed Putin prime minister of Russia – the fifth in less than two years. In Russia, the prime minister is the second-highest-ranking official and reports to the president.

And then – seemingly out of nowhere – Yeltsin stepped down and named Putin the acting president on New Year’s Eve 1999. Putin then won the election in March.

Many people believed Yeltsin propelled Putin to the presidency to protect himself. The war in Chechnya, in which Russian forces were fighting secular separatists who wanted the region to be independent, was starting to go south, and his approval ratings were dropping.

One of Putin’s first moves was to pardon Yeltsin, giving him “immunity from criminal or administrative investigations, including protection of his papers, residence and other possessions from search and seizure.”

During his first term, Putin focused primarily on domestic affairs. He had two items on the agenda: the war with Chechnya and the Yeltsin-era oligarchs.

Putin inherited Russia during a particularly complicated time. The country was in the midst of a conflict with Chechnya – a region that’s officially considered a Russian subject.

Additionally, Yeltsin-era oligarchs were increasingly interested in expanding their political influence. Putin recognized that the Yeltsin-era oligarchs had the potential to be more powerful than him, so he struck a deal with them.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “In July [2000], Putin told the oligarchs that he would not interfere with their businesses or renationalize state resources as long as they stayed out of politics – that is, as long as they did not challenge or criticize the president.”

And with the Second Chechen War, Putin established his reputation as a “man of action.”

In 2002, a Moscow theater was seized by 40 Chechen militants, who were led by the warlord Movsar Barayev. During the three-day ordeal, 129 of the 912 hostages died.

This was a critical moment for Putin, and many expected his domestic approval to plummet. But his “ruthless handling of the siege and his refusal to negotiate with the hostage-takers further shored up his reputation as a man of action.” His approval rating was up at 83% after it was all over.

Putin's rise

Reelection

In 2004, Putin was reelected for a second term. He continued to focus on domestic affairs but drew major criticism for his crackdown on the media.

Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist, was murdered in her apartment lobby in 2006 after she wrote about corruption in the Russian army with respect to Chechnya. She was killed on Putin’s birthday, but Putin denied any involvement, saying her death would do more harm to Russia than her reporting.

Still, many in the West criticized Putin for failing to protect the media.

Weeks after Politkovskaya’s death, a defector from the FSB was poisoned in London.

Despite all this, Putin seemed, overall, to be well liked.

During his first two terms, Russia’s GDP increased 70%, and investments increased by 125%. Putin’s Russia was lucky in that the country largely relied on oil. (Later drops in oil prices reflect how much of a difference it makes in the country’s economy.)

Second stint as prime minister

In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected president. A day later, he made Putin the new prime minister. And then came the global financial crisis.

The Russian economy was slammed particularly hard because it relied heavily on Western investment.

Additionally, the crisis showed how dependent the Russian economy is on oil and gas and how intertwined the industry was with the country’s political economy, according to the Brookings Institution.

In that same year, Russia was involved in a five-day international conflict, the Russo-Georgian War, with Georgia and the regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The two regions have been trying since the 1990s to formally gain independence – and Russia’s recognition of their independence has been condemned by Western nations. South Ossetia is still considered to be “officially part of Georgia,” and Georgia considers Abkhazia to be a “breakaway” region.

russia kremlin putin

Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation on December 31, 2016.

Current term as president

In 2012, Putin won his third presidential election – a six-year term.

This election was controversial. The constitutionality of a third term was called into question, and critics said there was electoral fraud. But officially, Putin got nearly 64% of the vote.

In March 2014, Putin caught the world’s attention when he annexed Crimea in one of the most complicated and controversial geopolitical moves of the year.

The ousted, pro-Russia president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, sent a letter to Putin asking him to use Russia’s military to “restore law and order in Ukraine.”

The Russian Parliament granted Putin “broad authority to use military force in response to the political upheaval in Ukraine that dislodged a Kremlin ally and installed a new, staunchly pro-Western government, the Ukrainian government in Kiev threatened war if Russia sent troops further into Ukraine,” according to The New York Times.

On March 2, Russia took complete control of Crimea.

Most recently, Putin has started exploring a relationship with China – mostly because Russia needs other trading partners after the West imposed sanctions over the actions.

Putin’s threat to the West

The liberal world order

Experts fear that the liberal world order – the idea that countries should intervene in other nations when liberal values are at risk – is under threat. Trump seems to share Putin’s views about the NATO alliance and has gone so far as to call it “obsolete.”

If NATO were to disintegrate, it would be a victory for Putin. He has been expanding Russia’s power around the world, including in the Middle East, and NATO is one obstacle that prevents him from further extending his influence throughout eastern Europe.

And Russia in recent years has not been friendly toward the US.

Retired Russian Lt. Gen. Evgeny Buzhinsky told the BBC last year that Russia sees the West as the belligerent party, citing sanctions against Russia and the barring of the Russian Paralympic team from the Rio Olympics for well-documented and state-sponsored doping as Western aggression against Russia.

“Of course there is a reaction. As far as Russia sees it, as Putin sees it, it is full-scale confrontation on all fronts. If you want a confrontation, you’ll get one,” Buzhinsky told the BBC. “But it won’t be a confrontation that doesn’t harm the interests of the United States. You want a confrontation, you’ll get one everywhere.”

alexander litvinenkoThe grave of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Many Kremlin critics have died by poisoning in recent years.

One notable case was that of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who died in weeks after drinking a poisoned cup of tea at a London hotel in 2006. A British inquiry blamed FSB agents.

More recently, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a critic of the Kremlin, was hospitalized because of what his wife said was “acute poisoning by an undefined substance.” He was also poisoned in 2015.

Considering how tightly Putin controls his government, it’s unlikely he would be unaware of government operations to neutralize perceived enemies.

The New York Times noted recently that the Soviet Union used such tactics extensively to silence opponents.

“Political murders are again playing a prominent role in the Kremlin’s foreign policy, the most brutal instrument in an expanding repertoire of intimidation tactics intended to silence or otherwise intimidate critics at home and abroad,” The Times reported.

Such killings are often carried out with a level of skill that suggests they’re unlikely to have been done by rogue hired killers.

“Outside of popular culture, there are no highly skilled hit men for hire,” Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and an authority on the Russian security services, told The Times. “If it’s a skilled job, that means it’s a state asset.”

Putin Horse

Strongman tendencies

Putin has carefully crafted his strongman image – and there are plenty of photos of him shirtless in the wilderness to prove it.

Anecdotes about him also show this side.

In 2013, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told a story during a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York about how Putin supposedly stole his 2004 Super Bowl ring while Kraft was visiting Russia in 2005.

“I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,'” Kraft said. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

Putin’s representatives denied the story.

Putin has also not been kind to his opponents. Aside from accusations of sanctioning the murders of journalists and dissidents, Putin has been known to use intimidation tactics to shake people down.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly one of the richest men in Russia, who took over the energy giant Yukos in the 1990s, once gave a presentation about corruption in Russia to Putin and some businessmen. Afterward, the government accused Khodorkovsky and his colleagues of tax evasion. He was later imprisoned and now lives in exile.

Putin and Trump

Both Putin and Trump have nationalistic bents – Putin strongly promotes Russian nationalism, and Trump ran on a platform of making America great again and putting America first.

Trump has also directly praised Putin on several occasions. In September, Trump said Putin “has very strong control” over his country, and that, while he didn’t like the Russian system of government, Putin has been more of a “leader” than Barack Obama was as US president.

The New Republic pondered in September why Trump seemed so attracted to Putin’s politics:

“Putin’s foreign policy is based on a forthright assertion of national interest even in defiance of international norms. As such, Putin is much closer than Obama to the type of foreign policy Trump has outlined. Further, Putin is an autocrat who can ‘get things done’ without worrying about approval from Congress or rejection from a Supreme Court.

“As Trump sees it, Putin has Made Russia Great Again. And given how Trump talks about achieving his own political goals – everyone will do what I say, trust me – it’s clear that Putin is his model of leadership.”

Elena Holodny and Alex Lockie contributed to this report.

Source: Business Insider