back to article Yandex plans to break up with its Russian motherland

Russia's most prominent tech company, Yandex, has announced steps to move some of its intellectual property out of Putin country and dispose of the rest to local interests. Yandex is a sprawling conglomerate often characterized as Russia's Google. It started as a search company, then moved into advertising, maps, e-commerce, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "they would feel similarly about Russian kit."

    Just ask Kaspersky. Anyway how much people will trust Yandex NV - or whatever it will be called - depends on it ties to Russia, even if one again The Netherlands look not to care where the money come from.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "they would feel similarly about Russian kit."

      I feel a bit sorry for Yandex here.

      For all its faults (and, yes, there were many), the USSR invested a lot (and Russia still does) in STEM education, and there are a lot of smart STEM people there. Russia (as does the rest of the world) deserves to have successful businesses and a strong economy, benefiting the whole population (and not just a few dodgy oligarchs and the like).

      But, sadly, as we all know, it didn't quite work out that way, and the actions of the Putin government have long been deplorable, not just regarding Ukraine, but in many other ways too. It would be nice to hope that one day, hopefully fairly soon, Russia gets a better leader and government and it can start to have some proper successful businesses (and not just dirty fossil fuels) and improve everyone's standard of living.

      Yandex could perhaps become one of those, but the awkward thing is that for historical and current reasons there will still be that fear in the west that they might be heavily leant on so that echoes of Soviet-style literal spyware might be in their code (not that many US internet services can claim the moral high ground there). Maybe in time that may no longer be a concern, but I suspect it would take substantial changes in Russian politics and probably at least a further generation…?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "they would feel similarly about Russian kit."

        Again, here Ukraine became a software development center, before the war, among the other improvements it was undergoing. But that's something again Putin could not accept - a country much alike Russia that could develop a decent economy and moreover something that truly resemble a democracy.

        The biggest Putin mistake was his utterly inability to develop an economy not based on selling raw materials and enriching a few of his friends. China at least did - although let's see if Xi breaks that too - but it's centuries that Russian oligarchs like to boast and brag their richness abroad while investing nothing at home. Yet Russian accept that over and over, they just need someone who tell them what a glorious nation they are, that their situation is just because those nasty enemies abroad, and their dear leader will bring them into a war that will open a bright future to them... I spent time in Moldova, the Russian elite there were wholly contemptuous towards those "Rumanian peasants", they were the rulers... in one of the poorest country in Europe.

        And now yes, everything with strong Russian ties will be looked at with suspicion. and Xi is doing that to China too. And it would be foolish to buy thing from countries that promise to destroy you, after all - if you really have to be spied allies are still better than enemies.

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        Devil

        Yandex - Just Another Facebook/Meta-like Data-Raider Using Dark Patterns

        I had a yandex.ru email account once. I set it up, checked that it worked (email send/receive), then signed out. A week later, I tried logging into it, and the login process was diverted to a message reading something like, "Oh, no! Suspicious activity was detected on your account! We must have your cellphone number for verification purposes."

        I did not provide them my number, and have not used the account since.

        Icon because yandex.ru uses devilish plans ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "they would feel similarly about Russian kit."

      Kerplunksky AV used to be awful. I have removed it from a lot of networks that were riddled with viruses and malware despite it being installed.

      Haven't seen it since the Windows XP days though.

      In my experience, Sophos seems to be the best, especially when paired up with MBAM. No AV is perfect but the overlap between MBAM and Sophos comes close.

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Yandex N.V.'s move was probably approved by Vladimir Putin Khuylo himself.

    Unless Yandex cuts all ties with the Rodina, it won't be mere than a foreign agency of the FSB.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Yandex needs to sell itself to a wholly owned U.S. or Western company and move all its assets outside of Russia. Only then will regulators allow the company to continue operating in the West.

      They're merely putting up a smoke screen and doing some window dressing to make it seem like they've cut ties to Russia.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        and move all its assets outside of Russia.

        Except employees I presume, unless they are properly vetted and won't have any remaining ties to Russia (which could be used by Russian services to force compliance - e.g. get us this or that data or else).

        It's clearly not workable. While you can admire Yandex, they are not doing anything remotely ground breaking. If there was a need for such a company in the West, we would have certainly had one.

        Something like Yandex was needed in Russia and they spilled over since, but they are completely unnecessary. Surplus to requirement so to speak, so if they were gone today, probably a very few people would have noticed and year on nobody would even remembered something like Yandex existed.

        1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

          If Yandex only focuses on Russia and other Slavic countries it should simply stay put.

          But for some reason it wants to expand beyond its borders and that's simply not possible in the current political climate. It could sell its self-driving software to some Western company wholesale, including trademarks, source code and intellectual property rights.

    2. sarusa Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Can't trust 'em

      This. It all has to be approved by Russia, and Pooty Poot won't approve of anything that doesn't involve Yandex still being Useful to him. As, say, a convenient way to avoid sanctions and keep grabbing Western data.

  3. Necrohamster Silver badge

    Not going to help

    Russian brands are cancer. Nobody’s going to trust them going forward, although in this case it’s a non-issue as people outside of Russia’s so called sphere of influence don’t use Yandex

  4. ThatOne Silver badge

    No-brainer

    Of course they're leaving. As the article already stated, they have reached a size where they have to look for "a more advantageous jurisdiction" -- and as a bonus leaving Russia is a necessary marketing move if they want to be able to sell their services outside of the tiny Russian market. Which they most certainly do.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: No-brainer

      Even with a name change, it's going to be only the very brave or the very stupid that become one of their customers.

      No one is going to trust that they have fully disentangled themselves from Russia, and at the very slightest sign of any contact back to Russia, the sanctions that come down will kill the non-russian party of the company flat.

      Then again there are a lot of stupid managers out there, so who knows maybe they'll be fine...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No-brainer

        "Even with a name change, it's going to be only the very brave or the very stupid that become one of their customers."

        You underestimate the beancounter mentality - all they need to do is charge less than other companies and you'll find no end of people overlooking their past.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: No-brainer

          all they need to do is charge less than other companies and you'll find no end of people overlooking their past

          I mean, look at IBM..

          (Not that they ever got hold of the whole "charge less" thing..)

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Go

            Re: No-brainer

            Actually IBM, would be the perfect example for what I'm saying. People still look at IBM's past and make the decision BASED on their PAST performance... Anyone looking at IBM's recent performance would run away screaming. People looking at Future non-Russian Yandex's past will runaway screaming...

            Although I acknowledge the Beancounter mentality will win Future non-Russian Yandex more customers than you'd expect...

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: No-brainer

          > You underestimate the beancounter mentality - all they need to do is charge less than other companies and you'll find no end of people overlooking their past.

          Was going to say the same. Money doesn't smell (as the ancient Romans already discovered), and the only thing which could prevent companies from using Yandex is some meddling government. Definitely not "ethics", you know very well they can't be bothered to look that up.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I actually find Yandex reverse image search better than Googles. I have seen occasions where an image had been cropped or otherwise altered and Google found no search results for it and Yandex found several matches.

  6. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    They're great for image reverse search and pirate sites. Otherwise I don't think they have any USP for someone outside of Russia. The "normal" search is ok but too focused on Russian sites.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "The "normal" search is ok but too focused on Russian sites."

      I wonder if that's because they do less localisation in their search results? Google used to be (and often still is) very USA centric in its results. Unless you are searching from another country where Google has a presence and a local national level domain. English speaking countries, eg the UK, still get a lot of USA based results whereas if you VPN via, say, France, you'll get many more local results in French. Of course, a lot depends also on what you are searching for.

      1. Dave559

        Having good search coverage of Russian websites is presumably a big positive point for much of the current Yandex user base, so it would probably make sense for them to tune their indexing and retrieval algorithms to be biased slightly towards that?

        And if they have an "add my site" form (rather than just indexing by finding), that probably also helps: I would guess that most Russian netizens would add their site to Yandex first (and then to other major search engines, if they think it worthwhile (and, indeed, if they are not blocked): there could, at least historically, be a bit of a self-reinforcing feedback loop going on) and so Yandex knows about and indexes new Russian sites sooner than other search engines which can't add them to their index until they have actually come across links to those sites while spidering the web?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "nations that don't operate pervasive censorship surveillance"

    "nations that don't operate pervasive censorship surveillance"

    Hmm, I think the view through a certain PRISM might be skewing someone's perspective a little…

    (And, excuse me, I think I need to go and give Google a quick thump on the back, they seem to be having a bit of a coughing fit just now…)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "nations that don't operate pervasive censorship surveillance"

      We want none of this pinko commie state surveillance, Google give us the finest capitalist surveillance money can buy!

  8. Tubz Silver badge

    Yandex board better beware of open Windows, seems a lot of people falling out of them in Russia, if a certain despot doesn't like what is happening and no, we can't blame Nadella or Microsoft bugs.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Indeed, I really can't see mad Vlad being happy with such a public demonstration of a lack of faith in Russia's immediate future.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        On the other hand, as someone mentioned earlier, Putin might see it as a way to keep Yandex "relevant" on the world stage and he has the power to make them do as he wants. I'm sure he still has stocks of Polonium and Novichock and the secret service to deliver it where and when needed if the Yandex.NL board don't do as "asked". There's cathedrals in NL that have to be seen to be believed. Those spires!!!. They also have coffee shops.

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Pirate

    Times Change

    ... whether regulators would welcome products that are developed within Vladimir Putin's domain – given the former spy's use of state-sponsored cyber criminals and influence operations.

    Whilst obviously the USA have never used state-sponsored cyber criminals, nor attempted to influence foreign countries' policies, I dunno why it is important that the Wicked One is a former spy. In America the former head of the CIA was appointed president in 1989.

  10. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Front

    Are regulators really going to fall for this?

    They're merely setting up a front company in the Netherlands whilst all the development still takes place in Russia. Management too is probably still beholden to the Kremlin's wishes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Front

      Yep, the fact that Putin didn't make the move quietly go away via his usual channels (poisoning, falling from balconies or other unexpected deaths) means they want this...

  11. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Goldfish

    People have memory of a goldfish.

    Just look how many corporations founded by Nazis, used forced labour or even manufactured materials used for mass killings and some even didn't bother to apologise are still operating today and thriving.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Goldfish

      Say what you will but Hugo Boss did make some brilliant uniforms!

  12. gcarter

    Image Search

    one more note for Yandex image search...

    https://yandex.com/images/

    ... its an absolute joy to use and navigate in both a pc based browser and mobile browser. Google should take some tips from their image management

    Oh and its a lot easier to found (wink) certain image types also ;-)

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Image Search

      Well, Google Lens, now to which all queries are pushed, is an utter disaster created by utter morons.

  13. arctic_haze

    I can see a potential market for Yandex

    The conspiracy theorists who are so afraid of their own governments somehow do not mind sharing all their data with the Putin regime.

  14. Zolko Silver badge

    what technology ?

    Yandex (...) started as a search company, then moved into advertising, maps, e-commerce, cloud, and software for self-driving cars

    in what sense is an ad-broker a technology company ? All this – and the same is true for Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon – are in no way "technology" stuff, all this is old technology dating back 30 years. Modern search engines (with crawler bots and indexing) were invented by DEC's AltaVista in the 90-ies. E-commerce where you could order from a catalog and be delivered by mail has been around since a century. And self-driving cars are a phantasm from the science fiction 1/2 a century ago.

    Real new technology is rockets, laser-measuring devices, solar energy generators, ultra-light aircraft ... and the such, not advertisement companies.

  15. Necrohamster Silver badge

    This is why Yandex can NEVER be trusted

    Russians start deleting destroyed buildings from Mariupol maps

    Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights, has reported that the Russian occupiers have started deleting from Yandex Maps the residential buildings they are demolishing in the occupied city of Mariupol:

    "The Russian forces destroyed a residential building at 33, Azovstalska Street. It has been demolished. It is still visible on Google Maps, but it has been removed from Yandex Maps, and it does not exist in reality…

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