Yandex CEO and founder resigns following sanctions

Arkady Volozh, Yandex’s CEO and executive director, resigned from his position, the company announced today.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Volozh personally. Yandex has not been sanctioned by the EU, U.S., or UK. Volozh had a 45.3% voting and 8.6% economic interest in Yandex.

Why we care. Yandex is generally regarded as Russia’s Google, even though Yandex pre-dates Google (Yandex launched in 1997). Yandex’s share of the Russian search market is estimated to be at 48%, behind Google’s 49%, according to StatCounter – but Yandex says it owns 61% of the search market. So this development, as well as others below, mean it’s worth keeping an eye on the state of the company if you work on any sites that rely on Yandex organic traffic.

What Volozh said. “While I consider this decision to be misguided and ultimately counterproductive, I do not intend to give any instructions to my family trust as long as sanctions are in place. During this time the trust will vote in line with the recommendations of the Board. While I will continue to support the team wherever possible, this decision is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders.”

Go deeper. On March 22, Wired published Is Russia’s Largest Tech Company Too Big to Fail? The article details how everything Volzh helped build over 20 years began crumbling in 20 days.

Timeline of Yandex turmoil. Here are some significant Yandex stories since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24:

  • Feb. 28: Nasdaq suspended trading of Yandex shares. (Nasdaq)
  • March 3: “We believe that our current data center capacity and other technology critical to operations will allow us to continue to operate in the ordinary course for at least the next 12 to 18 months. In the event of any prolonged suspension of supplies of hardware, software or other technology used in our business or offerings, if we are unable to secure alternative sources, our operations could be materially adversely affected over time.” (Yandex)
  • March 7: Esther Dyson and Ilya Strebulaev resigned from Yandex’s board of directors (Yandex).
  • March 15: Yandex Deputy CEO and Executive Director Tigran Khudaverdyan, who had been sanctioned earlier in the week, resigned. (Yandex)
  • March 16: Yandex rumored to be in negotiations to sell its media division (news and Zen). (TechCrunch)
  • April 27: Yandex’s Q1 financials were released. Yandex reported an adjusted net loss of 8.1 billion roubles ($110 million). The company said it experienced continued stable operations and strong growth across most of its businesses until Feb. 23. (Reuters)
  • April 28: Yandex announces sale of news and Zen to VK (Yandex)
  • May 18: It was reported that Yandex was exploring selling search and mail and moving its headquarters to Israel. (Data Center Dynamics

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