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Yandex Founder Interviewed by Moscow Times in Russia

The Moscow Times carries an interview today with Arkady Volozh, CEO and Founder of mega-portal Yandex. After his recent trip to Silicon Valley there has been renewed interest in internet developments within the mainstream Russia press. While the interviewer here does not put any technical questions to Arkady, there is some interesting background on his life and the history of Yandex. It also touches on the particularities of running a business in Russia in both pre and post Soviet times.

This article will be subscription-only after tonight and so you will need to be quick to read the full version. I have included some key quotes below for those who missed the boat:

Together with Arkady Borkovsky, now with Yahoo! in California, Volozh established Arkadia [Yandex’s predecessor]. This company, which Segalovich joined in 1990, developed search technology that could find information in Russian, despite the numerous forms a Russian word can take depending on its case, gender and tense.

“In 1997, we launched Yandex.ru, where we indexed the entire Russian Internet. It took all of 4 gigabytes,” he said. Originally, the Yandex team wanted to sell search technology to portals. “It turned out there were no [interested] portals, so we decided to make a portal ourselves,” Volozh said.

Investors, unaware of the ensuing Internet bubble burst, were also catching on. Volozh left CompTek to concentrate on Yandex, which had become a separate business. With over $5 million in capital from the Ru-Net Holdings investment company, Volozh said Yandex employees created e-mail, shopping and other new web services.

With Internet portals now mass products, Yandex has grown from 12 programmers to a staff of 300. Unshaven programmers in bulky sweaters walk in and out of the company’s kitchen, where the windows face the Academy of Sciences’ computing center — where Volozh saw his first PC in 1984. “That is where Tetris [the computer game] was made,” Volozh said, pointing to one of the windows across the street. Yandex, however, is soon to leave this lucky spot because its two-story office is no longer large enough for the business.

Some very interesting background information there. I’ll have to push for an invite to Yandex’s new home to bring you some pictures. And yes, I’ve already suggested a volleyball court in the back.

Source: Moscow Times
(subscription only)

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Nick Wilsdon

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