In the past few years I simply do not have time for hobbies. I am even starting to forget what I was fond of. Such as in the past it was reading of literature not related to work.
Milner is married to former high fashion model and contemporary Artist Julia Milner (née Bochkova). She is interested in photography: during the 52nd Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art she produced a contribution entitled Click I Hope.
Born into a Jewish family on 11 November 1961 in Moscow, Yuri Milner was the second child of Russian intellectuals. His Father, Bentsion Zakharovitch Milner , was active in the sphere of management and organisation. He was Chief Deputy Director at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Betty Iosifovna Milner, Yuri's mother, worked at the capital's state-run virological laboratory for disease control. His older sister, eight years his senior, is an Architect.
Milner studied theoretical physics at Moscow State University, graduating in 1985. He went on to work at Lebedev Physical Institute, one of the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in the same department as the Nobel Prize winner Vitaly Ginzburg. As a doctoral candidate in particle physics, Milner befriended Soviet nuclear Physicist and human rights Activist Andrei Sakharov. Sakharov's forward thinking would later influence Milner's venture investment strategy.
After graduating, Milner spent the first half of the 1990s at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., as a Russian banking specialist focused on the development of private sector banking. He has described his time at the World Bank as his "lost years", due to watching from afar the privatization of government holdings during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin. In the spring of 1995, Milner was appointed CEO of Alliance-Menatep, an investment brokerage company belonging to then oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In December 1996 Milner worked as Vice President and Head of Investment Management of Menatep Bank. From February 1997 to December 2000, Milner was the deputy chairman and the head of the investment division of Menatep Bank. At the time, the market makers described him as "a well-known professional, who will bring the bank valuable experience in international financial institutions and transactions in the Russian investment market". However, due to its risky Investments and an excessive share of GKO-OFZ obligations in its portfolio (the Russian government defaulted on its GKO bonds in 1998), Menatep ceased to fulfill obligations to depositors and went bankrupt. Depositors lost part of their money. The bank management transferred assets to a bank with a similar name (Menatep SPb) and key staff got money for further Investments.
In 1999, after reading a review by Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker on the prospects for online businesses, Milner decided to create an internet company. He sought funding from his friend from Menatep days Gregory Finger, who at the time led the Russian branch of the US investment fund New Century Holding. The fund agreed to invest $4.5 million with the proviso that Milner and Finger each personally invest $750,000. Milner, Finger, and NCH created a new company, NetBridge. In 2000, Milner became the President of Netbridzh Services Ltd (netBridge) – the company that "created as an Internet incubator and investment fund". Netbridge succeeded in transferring a variety of U.S.-pioneered internet Business Models to Russia, creating companies including the portal List.ru, online auction site Molotok.ru (based on eBay), free web-hosting Boom.ru (based on GeoCities), and online shop 24×7, using the formula of Amazon.com.
In February 2001, netBridge and Port.ru (which owned Mail.ru) announced a merger. Milner became CEO of the new company named Mail.ru (though the legal name Port.ru was also retained).
From January 2003 to December 2004, Milner was the CEO of "Neftyanoi", owned by Igor Linshits.
In 2005, NCH shifted its focus from Russian Internet projects and Milner founded the investment fund Digital Sky Technologies (DST), becoming its chairman in 2006. A meeting through mutual friends resulted in Alisher Usmanov becoming a shareholder of Mail.ru Group in 2008.
In January 2009, while in Palo Alto, Milner became acquainted with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The meeting led to an agreement on 26 May 2009 under which DST bought a 1.96% stake in Facebook for $200 million.
In an interview with Vedomosti in 2010, Milner said:
In 2011, Milner bought a $100 million home in Los Altos Hills. The compound spans three plots totaling seven hectares and includes a roughly 25,500-square-foot (2,370 m) main house and a 5,500-square-foot (510 m) guest house. The current tax bill is about $304,000 a year. The Wall Street Journal reported the price as $100 million, saying it was the most ever paid for a single-family home in the United States. The property is appraised by the Santa Clara County assessor at $50 million. Milner lives in Silicon Valley with his family. Milner attends synagogue, but says that he is only minimally religiously observant.
In July 2012, Yuri and Julia Milner established the Breakthrough Prize, joined the following year by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki and Mark Zuckerberg. The Prize is a set of international awards recognizing three fields of endeavor: Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Laureates receive $3 million each in prize money, making the Breakthrough Prizes the largest scientific awards in the world. There are also New Horizons awards in physics and mathematics for younger researchers who have already produced significant work.
Milner believes that the internet will develop into a "global brain"—which is often described as an intelligent network of individuals and machines—functioning as a nervous system for the planet Earth. He also envisages that the advent of the internet of things and ever increasing use of social media will increase humans' collective intelligence.
In September 2015, the Breakthrough Prize launched the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a science competition for people between thirteen and eighteen years of age, in collaboration with Khan Academy.
The third project, Breakthrough Starshot, was announced 12 April 2016. Starshot is a US$100 million program to develop a proof-of-concept light sail spacecraft fleet capable of making the journey to Alpha Centauri at 20% the speed of light (60 million m/s or 215 million km/h) taking about 20 years to get there, and about 4 years to notify Earth of a successful arrival.
On 20 April 2017, the Breakthrough Discuss conference was held, during which the results of a year worth of data analysis was discussed. According to the researchers, 692 stars were analyzed.