The Business On...Arkady Volozh, Founder of Yandex

By Stephen Foley
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:16

A Russian Larry Page?

Yandex is to Russia what Google is to the rest of the world – this is its largest search engine – and Mr Volozh is to Yandex what Mr Page is to Google, namely one of two co-founders and currently its chief executive. At 47 years old, though,he has got about a decade on the Google boss.

How do their fortunes compare?

Mr Volozh has some catching up to do, what with Mr Page being worth $19.8bn and all, but Yandex's float yesterday went off like a rocket, and its chief executive's stake was worth about $1.4bn now. Not bad for a morning's work.

A day's work?

OK, being cynical, sorry. It's just that Yandex looks like another beneficiary of the current mania for internet stocks. It was going to price its shares at $20-$22, but when its bankers were knocked over in the rush of investors they decided to sell them at $25, and by lunchtime yesterday they were up at $35 after a style debut.

Actually, it's a life's work, isn't it?

Pretty close. Mr Volozh is an applied mathematics graduate who has been working on search algorithms for more than 20 years with his co-founder Ilya Segalovich, a geophysicist by training, who is now Yandex's chief technology officer.

Working on search?

They came up with algorithms to search the Russian-language Bible and classic Russian literature, and to make electronic searches for patents, before launching Yandex in 1997. "Any good business is a hobby," Mr Volozh has said.

How is it doing?

Two-thirds of Russian internet searches are made via its crisp white home page, and just like Google it makes its money from selling relevant ads alongside the results. Its earnings rose 90 per cent last year, which is why investors were excited. The flotation has raised $1.3bn for the company and for founding investors – the largest sum since, you guessed it, Google.

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