The “Google of Russia” wants to sell its Russian companies and flee the country with its most promising technology


After Moscow invaded Ukraine, the “Google of Russia” has decided that it cannot live in Russia.

Moscow-based Yandex, the country’s leading search engine founded by two Russian entrepreneurs, hopes to move some of its most promising new technologies abroad and weather the effects of Western sanctions imposed after President Vladimir Putin left Russia ordered to annex Ukraine. giving up most of his Russian business to avoid

under the plan, that financial times It was reported on Thursday that Yandex NV, the Dutch-registered holding company of Yandex, will sell most of its Russian business, such as search, e-commerce and ride-hailing, to a local buyer. New York Times The latter explained that Yandex NV would then transfer its most promising technologies to non-Russian markets.

By cutting ties with Russia, Yandex hopes to protect its new ventures, such as self-driving cars, cloud computing and educational technology, from being tied to the Russian market. Western partners have canceled alliances with Yandex after the Russian war in Ukraine, including food delivery company Grubhub, which ended its robotic delivery initiative with Yandex just days after the Russian invasion. The new export controls also limit sales of advanced technology components to Russia.

There are obstacles to Yandex’s plan. It will have to find a local buyer willing to buy its Russian companies. It would also need Moscow’s permission to transfer technology licenses outside the country, and Yandex shareholders would have to agree to the plan.

The plan is reportedly backed by Alexei Kudrin, Russia’s former finance minister. Kudrin is expected to take a leading position in Yandex after the deal is completed financial times,

Yandex did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Sanctions and an exodus of workers

Founded in 2000, Yandex controls about 60% of the Russian search engine market and has invested in ride-hailing, e-commerce and news.

While not state-owned, Yandex has forged close ties with the Russian government. In 2019, Yandex agreed to give the state more authority in its operational decisions, in an effort to fend off a law restricting foreign ownership of Russian tech companies.

Shortly after the Russian invasion, the NASDAQ exchange suspended trading in Yandex shares over concerns over US sanctions. Yandex shares in Moscow have lost 60.3% since the beginning of the year. The stock plummeted despite strong performance from Yandex in the Russian market, which reported a 46% year-over-year sales increase in the third quarter.

Russian tech companies have also been hit by the exodus of talented Russians who left the country after the invasion of Ukraine. More than 10% of Yandex’s 19,000 employees have resigned, Bloomberg reported in August.

The European Union has also imposed sanctions on Yandex executives, accusing the company of promoting pro-war Russian propaganda on its news platform. The European Union in March banned Tigran Khudaverdyan, Yandex’s deputy CEO in charge of the news department.

The European Union in June imposed sanctions on Arkady Volos, the founder and then CEO of Yandex, accusing him of “materially or financially” supporting an invasion of Russia. Volozh resigned as CEO the same day. Yandex sold its news division to fellow Russian tech company VK in August.

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