Yandex withdraws assets from Russia and creates a second company for refugees


Regardless of how you end up

tsya this story, it deserves at leastnovels and even film adaptations. In the best traditions of the genre, you can make a documentary film, or even aim at a feature film. Yandex, as the largest IT company in Russia, in theory could become the locomotive of the industry, but today, like no other, it is experiencing difficulties due to sanctions against Russia, although the company itself is outside these sanctions. Yandex's problem has always been that a small group of managers have taken the position of an antagonist towards Russia, although at the same time they accepted the administrative support of the state. Such a duality could not last forever, Yandex was and remains a stranger to everyone without exception. The company is not its own for officials in Russia, it is rather considered and helped despite dislike. In the West, the company is associated exclusively with Russia, and there are simply no halftones here. In this text, we will try to understand what Yandex is doing today and how it brings resources, people and technologies from Russian offices to Western countries. This is done clearly out of conviction, and not out of urgent need. It is done by the top managers of the company, who have chosen the future for themselves, to some extent create an alternate airfield and are afraid that someone might interfere in its hasty construction.

In order not to be unfounded, in this text I willrely on the facts that have already happened, and only then we will move on to the area of ​​assumptions, what may or may not come out of the top management of the company. But, looking ahead, I can say that for me, as an outside observer, the picture looks like that the company will be divided into two parts - Western and Russian. The actual split can be framed in many ways, but the fact is that many of Yandex's developments are being pulled out of Russia to create start-up capital for a new company or even companies. This, without any doubt, puts the Russian Yandex in an unenviable position, when the company will receive only the local market and all the achievements of previous years will be available to Yandex Two, which operates worldwide.

Today, Yandex has offices inmany countries of the world: USA, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, China and Israel. For example, the office in Tel Aviv is one of the largest, and many “refugees” from Yandex went there to continue working for the company and receive their payments, but not to be present in Russia. Vivid examples of such people are Elena Bunina (former CEO of the company), as well as Ilya Krasilshchik (Yandex.Lavka). In fact, Yandex has been a Dutch company all its life in its structure, the management company was located in Holland, and not in Russia. This has been repeatedly explained by the fact that this is accepted in the corporate world. But this, of course, is not the case. Russia was used as a key market, since it was only in our country that Yandex could earn the main money from advertising and other services, which is exactly the same today.

In early March, the Israeli press appearedinformation that Yandex is looking for an opportunity to move up to 800 people to the country, requests the help of the Israeli government, turned to the Department of Population and Immigration. All appeals were unofficial, the company was testing the ground. This, in particular, was written in detail by The Marker here.

People are the main resource of any company, forIT companies are all about them. Yandex's actions show that the company is preparing alternate airfields for its employees outside of Russia, preparing for an exodus from the country. This is not just preparation as such, these are quite conscious steps aimed at creating jobs outside of Russia. One gets the impression that this plan existed even before, now it has apparently acquired a different scope, and circumstances force us to act as quickly as possible.

In 2016, Yandex opened for everyonedistributed analytical DBMS ClickHouse. The company's internal development was used in Yandex.Metrica and other projects, it was created entirely within Yandex and with the company's money. Many questions arose around this project, but gradually it proved its effectiveness and began to be used in many projects, and not only those owned by Yandex. Development began in 2009. The decision to make the project open source allowed to expand the scope of its application.

At the end of 2021, Yandex makes a decisionlet a successful project go free, de facto abandon it. Imagine for a moment that for 12 years you have been investing money in your development, supporting and promoting it at the expense of the company, and then just donate all this to the development team and enter the capital of the new company as an investor. Sounds crazy enough? Yes, you can accuse me of not understanding anything about charity, not knowing anything about how large corporations give their employees everything they possibly can. But I really do not see such examples in the Western world, but I see how Yandex simply releases a division capable of generating millions of dollars of net profit every quarter. The very fact of such charity, and it is nothing else, baffles me.

Here is what the ClickHouse blog says about itevent. Yandex N.V. is the largest internet company in Europe with over 14,000 employees. They develop search, advertising and e-commerce services, ride-tech and food-tech solutions, self-driving cars… and ClickHouse with a team of 15 engineers. It's hard to believe that we've managed to build a world-class leading analytics database with such a small team, while leveraging a global community. Although this was barely enough to keep up with open source product development, everyone understands that the potential of ClickHouse technology far exceeds the capabilities of such a small team.


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We decided to combine resources:take a team of ClickHouse core developers, attract a world-class business team led by Aaron Katz and a team of cloud engineers led by Yuri Izrailevsky, maintain the power of open source, add investments from leading venture capital funds and make an international company 100% focused on ClickHouse. I am very pleased to announce ClickHouse, Inc."

Call into question the fact that "Yandex" couldit is impossible to expand the ClickHouse team on your own, all the resources for this existed. But in "Yandex" they decided to give the company to the side, to make it completely independent. There was simply no reason for this. To understand the size of companies that work on ClickHouse solutions, I will list those listed on their page: Uber, Ebay, Cloudflare, Spotify, Deutsche Bank. Big enough companies as partners?

In early March, the founders of ClickHouse renounced any ties with Russia, here you can find the official statement

Here is the most important part of it:

“There were many false statements and misunderstandings,related to the relationship between ClickHouse, Inc. and Russia. Let's explain everything. ClickHouse Inc. is a Delaware company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have no operations in Russia, no Russian investors and no Russian members of the Board of Directors. However, we have an incredibly talented team of Russian software engineers based in Amsterdam and we are very proud to call them colleagues.

The creation of our company was made possible thanks toan agreement under which the Russian-based Dutch company Yandex NV provided ClickHouse and the engineering team behind it to an American venture capital-backed startup headquartered in Silicon Valley. From the very beginning it was planned that the team of Russian engineers would move to Amsterdam.”

Amazing text that puts everything clearlyin places. "Yandex" is not a Russian company (who, if not from it, should know this!). The company has no ties with Russia, only the engineers who created the product (and where have all the investments since 2009 disappeared?). At the same time, Yandex helped its employees move to Amsterdam, where the parent company and one of the corporation's offices are located.

The history of ClickHouse can be seen asa role model of what Yandex is doing, namely, withdrawing its assets from Russia and actually giving them to some people. Making money almost exclusively within Russia, the company gives generous gifts to strangers who build their businesses in other countries. It looks like the development of Russian resources on a rotational basis.

For the Russian shareholders of Yandex, there isa huge field for clarifying relations with the company, namely simple questions - in connection with what was the successful division given to incomprehensible people? What prevented it from being developed within Yandex? Why, after Yandex brought ClickHouse to payback and profit, was this department donated to someone? It is possible that this does not fit in my head for some banal reasons, so explain to me why this is possible and how it is possible. Management, deliberately depriving themselves of profit, looks unprofessional or corrupt, there is no third way.

Let's take a look at the latest developments fromYandex. On April 19, the company opens the YDB DBMS project as an open source project. The situation is exactly the same as with ClickHouse, the parallels suggest themselves. In describing the reasons for its decision, Yandex writes the following:

“We are confident that the rapid development of technology,that we have seen in recent decades would not have been possible without the open source culture. For example, now it is impossible to imagine the Internet without such databases as MySQL, PostgreSQL and ClickHouse, Apache web servers and nginx - there are many examples.

The opening of the project creates the most interesting for everyonewin-win situation. The community, on the one hand, has the opportunity to use the unique developments in which Yandex has invested hundreds of man-years, get acquainted with the code, freely launch and develop solutions based on YDB. Technologies that allow Yandex to develop faster, quickly respond to growing loads and scale are now available to everyone. On the other hand, the variability of users will greatly increase, we will be able to get feedback from the global community and make the database even better. It is important to break down the barrier for users who are interested in the technology but stop for fear of being closed and/or not being able to use it on their hardware or in their clouds.”

The mention of ClickHouse looks especially a system without which it is impossible to imagine the Internet, and a system that Yandex actually donated free of charge. Perhaps something similar will happen with YDB, since the release of an asset into open source allows it to be de facto transferred to any jurisdiction. Today, Yandex is depriving its Russian part of the opportunity to have a competitive advantage in development, pulling not only its own achievements, but also people associated with them outside the country. And this is a conscious work that is carried out by the company's management, and not random steps.


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Let's take a look at other stories that are happening around Yandex. In Finland, the company's data center was disconnected from electricity, we wrote about this in Spillikins.

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Against the background of a power outage "Yandex"changed its legal entity in Finland, the new name of the company is Global DC Oy. At the same time, the Finnish authorities said that the company is under their supervision. “Any kind of business related to Russian money should be kept to a minimum,” Jussi Halla-aho, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said.

The story that happened in Finland is greatresonates with the history of ClickHouse, Russia should be actively denied, and Yandex today, in all communication in foreign markets, claims that it is not a Russian company! Moreover, it takes all steps to ensure that the number of employees in foreign markets is comparable with Russian offices. That is, in fact, Yandex sponsors the same brain drain, but to its offices outside of Russia.

The company denies it is planning a split into twoparts - Russian and Western. Bearing in mind that Yandex always denies everything, and then it turns out to be a reality, it is difficult to believe in such statements. But what is happening now actually looks like the withdrawal of all more or less significant assets from Russia and, at the same time, financing of foreign markets at the expense of Russia. The situation remains when Russia provides the main money for Yandex, in foreign markets the company is de facto bankrupt and cannot service its debt, she officially announced this.

Therefore, most likely, the role model for inferenceassets will be clear, this is the creation of "independent" companies in the image and likeness of ClickHouse, they will get the achievements of "Yandex", the development teams for which will create all the conditions for them to leave Russia. It is possible that after the first stage, these teams will gather as Western companies into one holding company and Yandex Two will appear with a different name. But there is no doubt that a period of cleansing of any ties with Russia is needed. As well as the fact that "Yandex" today begins to actively withdraw its intellectual assets outside, financing them through activity in the Russian market.

The whole story certainly deserves a novel orcinema, but, on the other hand, it looks like a deliberate destruction of the company's capabilities within Russia, its maximum weakening. The movie can turn out to be dramatic when management is forced to answer questions from investigators.

As another example, I will say that Yandextransferred all its applications and rights to them to a Swiss company. What for? Apparently, also in preparation for evading sanctions, which will come anyway, and a change of ownership cannot help here, of course, if they are introduced. Here the question is different, this is the same alternate airfield. The new name of Yandex Services AG is now Intertech Services AG.

I always cite as an example "LaboratoryKaspersky, a large international business that was attacked much earlier than Yandex began to experience any problems. The company adequately copes with the challenges and at the same time does not leave Russia, does not try to play up and change the port of registry. Different people, different outlooks on life. The approach of Yandex management is not close to me, however, like to many people inside the company. Which guarantees a tough intra-corporate conflict in the very near future, and it can completely bury Yandex.

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