The originally Russian Yandex wants to leave Russia. The Russian branch – including a search engine, meal service, taxi service and the name Yandex – will be sold. With four other divisions, the company wants to continue under a new name and outside Russia.
The internet company will initially create fifty to one hundred jobs at its head office in the Netherlands, says a source who is aware of the decisions against the NOS. The head office is currently still at Schiphol, but it may move to Amsterdam.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fifteen people worked at the Dutch head office, which was mainly located here because of the tax benefits. In recent months, about twenty employees have already been added, who had fled Russia.
Self-driving cars and learning software
The four branches that the company is left with are involved in self-driving car technology, cloud services, online education software and collecting real-world data to make algorithms better.
The last branch in particular – the subsidiary Toloka – will initially generate Dutch jobs. The self-driving car division is likely to operate from the United States. It is not yet clear where exactly the personnel of the other two divisions will be located. But Amsterdam is a good candidate.
Yandex takes the step because of the “geopolitical situation.” “Being based in Russia puts the brakes on,” says the source. “Several car brands are about to buy the technology for self-driving cars. But they don’t want to do that as long as there is a relationship with Russia.”
For the split to succeed, approval from the Kremlin is needed. Yandex therefore wants to bring a confidant of Putin – Aleksej Kudrin – on board.
Yandex has been struggling with its future since the beginning of the war. The company was under fire because of its news service Yandex News. According to critics, the company provided Kremlin propaganda through the platform and censored critical news.
That criticism was also the reason for the European Union to put founder and CEO Arkady Volozh on the sanctions list in June. He subsequently resigned. Volozh – who is not known as a Putin supporter – is now trying to get off the sanctions list.
In September, the company sold all infected Yandex News. The criticism has not yet completely died down. Today there is a demonstration by Ukrainian Dutch people at Yandex’s headquarters in the Netherlands.