Tag Archives: yandex

Russian sites and services banned in Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine have had very tense relations since the last several years, and it seems currently relations are at all time low. As a result of that, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenk signed on Monday a decree which prevents the operation of Russian sites and online services in Ukraine.  To be precise – a so called web sanctions apply to 468 legal entities and 1228 individuals from Russia.

It is a well-known fact that majority of the most popular sites and online services come from Russia, and two online groups Yandex and Mail.ru owns the biggest number of those popular services. Ukraine users will not be able to use Yandex, Mail.ru. and services like Odnoklassniki (OK) and Vkontakte (VK) which are part of Mail.ru Group and many services from Yandex like search engine, maps, taxi app etc.

Both Yandex and Mail.ru said that this decision will not have significant effect on their financial results.  Mail.ru rep. expressed dissapointment with this and called it as “clearly politically-driven decision”. Around 25 million Ukrainian users will be affected, who regularly use online services from Russian companies.

This will give opportunity to local and foreign companies to gain better market share in the Ukrainian market. From the Ukrainian community many are against this decision and call it as “censorship”.

SEEMEA’s five unicorns for a billion of dollars

Until recently, the word “unicorn” has been referred only to a rare mythical animal. Now this word also determines startups, which are valued at over one billion dollars. On the market there are quite a few of them and they develop their ideas in various areas of life – from music streaming to virtual reality solutions for medical applications. 60% of start-ups known as unicorns come from the US. This is because the US market is very large, extremely open to projects even at an early stage of development, it is relatively easy to get financing there, and besides, it is responsible for 50-70% of global consumption. However, you can also find some interesting startup unicorns in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Here are some of them:

Flipkart – the first wort a billion e-commerce website in India. It is often referred to as the Indian Amazon. It was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. The company has been operating since 2007 and in the beginning it dealt only with book sales. Currently on Flipkart you can buy almost anything. The website is worth $ 15 billion, it has has 46 million registered users, it offers over 30 million products and records 10 million daily visits.

Yandex – search engine designed for the Russian-speaking Internet users. The importance and strength of this service is best evidenced by the fact, that in Russia and Ukraine market share of the search engine market world leader – Google – barely exceeds 20%. In the Russian-speaking network, so-called Rusnet, there supremely rules Yandex. The company is valued at $ 4.9 billion. It is worth remembering that Yandex is a part of the Russian empire Internet company Mail.ru Group (formerly Digital Sky Technologies).

12% of unicorns come from Europe. It must be remembered that many companies at some point move to the United States. The rest of the world is lagging behind. But a unicorn can be born anywhere in the world, as evidenced by the first which was established in Nigeria. Nigerian unicorn is a startup called Interswitch, which offers digital financial services, and supports the African market. It uses a switching infrastructure to connect different banks in Nigeria and provides technology for ATM cards. The company has over 11000 ATMs on its network. In 2014 Interswitch acquired a majority shareholding in Paynet Group, an East-African payments provider. In 2015 Interswitch launched a $10m investment fund for African start-ups in the payments sector.

Jumia – it is an online market place from Nigeria where people can buy a wide selection of products and get them delivered at their homes or workplaces. The startup is funded by telecommunications company, MTN and Millicom which develops and operates cellular networks in Africa. It operates in 15 African countries. Last year, its parent company Africa Internet Group was purchased in 8% stake by AXA at a valuation of more than $1 billion, making AIG a unicorn.

Souq.com is the biggest online shopping destination in the Middle East. It gets 1.5 million visits a day and has about 70,000 merchants on its platform. Some of the biggest verticals include:  electronics, health and beauty and home and baby, and brands from Dell to Pampers and Aldo, and from Boss to Nespresso are on the site. Souq is called the Middle East’s first unicorn, after a $275 million funding round from Tiger Global Management, Standard Chartered Private Equity and the International Finance Corp.

Google loosing monopoly on mobile firmware to Yandex

Google is a “household” name in CIS software on Andorid based devices.  For the first time, it is receiving some intensive competition from a Russian based company Yandex.

Yandex is launching a free alternative to Google’s firmware, and has already signed with Huawei and Explay. These devices are hitting the market this spring.  Users who opt in for these devices will receive 50Gb on Yandex.Disk cloud storage as a cool bonus.

With flexible development possibilities Yandex firmware is very attractive not only to users but also to developers. Becoming a new platform it has incredible development potential. As an additional incentive, manufacturers will get a percentage from the revenue generated by Yandex.kit.

Nokia and Samsung have also announced that they will allow Yandex to install their search engine, and iPhone and iOS apps are soon to be released too.

Yandex already has several international projects, first of which was a portal in Turkey in 2011. Future plans include cooperation with Czech portal Seznam, which controls most of the domestic market despite Google’s presence.