Russia’s Native Tech Star Yandex Collapsing Over Sanctions

Yandex — the giant Russian tech brand involved in everything from search to music streaming and ride-hailing — has been reeling from the effects of economic sanctions and the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Yandex stock, described as “soaring” on its Nasdaq debut in 2011, was in February said to be “in freefall,” having declined to about half of its value. The company has an estimated 67 million users worldwide, including in Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, London and Paris, where partnerships with Uber and Grubhub were followed by forays into robotic food delivery and self-driving cars.

In February, stocks of Russia-based companies were halted on both the NYSE and Nasdaq, where “until recently, shares of Yandex were soaring, hitting an all-time [high] this past fall after the company raised its sales forecast and expanded deeper into e-commerce,” according to Bloomberg.

Yandex as of 2014 also began trading on the Moscow Exchange, which went dark on February 25. Russia’s central bank said Wednesday the exchange would reopen for limited trading this week on 33 top stocks whose primary listing is MOEX. The reopening includes a ban on short sales, per reporting in Forbes.

Yandex co-founder and CEO Arkady Volozh is described as a Russian billionaire who principally resides in Israel, making him something of a poster boy for Eastern Bloc entrepreneurs felled by the effect of the autocrat-run federal republic’s “mixed economy.”

For the past 20 years, “Yandex has been known as ‘Russia’s Google,’” writes Wired, adding that the firm launched “as a search engine in 1997 and still has a 60 percent share of the Russian search market. But for the past decade, this tag has understated the company’s inescapable ubiquity in Russians’ daily life.”

“Yandex Music is the country’s leader in paid music streaming, and Yandex Taxi is the top ride-hailing app,” notes Wired. “Millions of Russians use Yandex Navigator, Yandex Market, Yandex News, and YooMoney (formerly Yandex Wallet) to get around, shop online, read, and spend money.”

Yandex had revenues of $4.8 billion in 2021, according to The Wall Street Journal.