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Indeed, the 49-year-old, who describes himself as a "capitalist-idealist", is keen to distance himself from the Russian oligarch class.
"We don't plan to influence editorial policy but to boost objectivity," he said.
His mother, a teacher, was a Communist party member, but his father, an academic, was not.
His grandfather was a factory boss who was on the KGB death list during Stalin's purges.
In 2006, he again teamed up with Mr Gorbachev to buy a stake in the Russian paper, the Novaya Gazeta paper where murdered journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya worked.
It continues to report on themes the Kremlin-controlled media prefer to ignore - corruption, human rights abuses in Chechnya, and the activities of the FSB, Russia's post KGB spy agency.
He has been separated from his wife since 1998 and has one son, Evgeny, who was educated in the UK and is a familiar figure on London's social scene.