May 24, 2011

Russian Search Engine Yandex Goes Public

Russian search engine company Yandex reported earlier this week that their IPO offering price would start at $25 per share, after saying it would be priced between $20-22 a couple weeks ago. The increase starting price reflects the general optimism for demand of this companies stock when they go public (which was today, Tuesday, May 24th, 2011). Priced at $25 per share, values the company at $8 billion dollars. Yandex plans to raise $1.3 Billion through this IPO by selling 52.2 million shares. Leading underwriters for today's IPO include financial giants in the world of finance with names like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank. In IPO agreements with the underwriters and the company, the underwriters have the added option of selling 5.2 million additional shares. Investors sent the stock up today, as it closed at $38.84 on the Yandex first day of trading. Many are watching to see if there is a sort of "Silicon Valley" phenomenon happening in Russia and whether technology and internet giants will be born from it. So far, Yandex going public, seems to be a step in that direction. It was just a few months ago that I remember the Russian President, Mr. Medvedev coming to the State I live in (California) and meeting with executives and engineers in Silicon Valley. I'm wondering if he took back some of what he learned to grow Russia's market share in mobile search also.

Dominating Russian Search Market

From what I've read researching this company, Yandex is widely accepted as the largest and most popular search engine operating in Russia. The New York Times reported that 64% of Russian Search Engine Traffic, was generated by Yandex. This dominates that market, making Google's market share there, pale in comparison. Yandex is growing and much the same way Google has worked hard to enter search engine markets globally in countries around the world, such as their move into South Korea consumer Mobile Markets I Blogged about, Yandex may look to do the same in the near future. Raising capital through today's IPO, will allow them to expand and focus on research and development. I would not be surprised if Yandex evolves and emerges into a competitive global search engine. I have a personal story about Yandex that reflects my thinking in that assessment:

When I started blogging in December 2010, I noticed from my website stats that one of my visitors came from a "Yandex" referring link. I had no idea what Yandex was nor had I heard the name. When I Googled it and went to the Yandex website, I could tell that it was a search engine, but I could not read it because it was in Russian (although now I see it display mostly English when I go to it - I like the new look). I found it interesting that someone in Russia had reached my blog through a search engine in Russia (that was not I continued blogging new posts, and ever once in a while I could see that a visitor was entering my blogs URL into Yandex, and the results Yandex were providing, allowed them to select my blog, and follow it. By the way, if you are that reader, thank you for reading this blog! I appreciate it. Who knew you'd be part of my blog post today but with Yandex listing on the Nasdaq today, It is a great contribution to my story because it explains where I first heard of it in the first place (before it started showing up recently in the newspapers). This meant that Yandex, the Russian Search Engine Company, had found me before I found it. Yandex successfully indexed some of my blog pages before Bing or Yahoo did! I find that remarkable considering the fact, they are located in Russia and not as well known as Yahoo or Bing (not yet anyway). This could potentially mean, the search engine company has figured out how to crawl the web, and if they can get their algorithms and revenue models streamlined, they have a bright future, especially if they incorporate that strategy and focus on Research and Development in figuring out how to enter markets and expand market share in areas of mobile consumer markets, where smart phone use and ownership continues to feed expansion and growth of this consumer market.

Yandex Stock Soars on IPO

I think this company could really become a household name in the future. Yandex stock rose 55% on their opening day, and may continue to rise. The impressive performance after being listed for the first time on Nasdaq today, I think signals that Investors have high hopes for this company and its future. There are some who have called Yandex the Google of Russia. The way their stock price soared today, Yandex may actually become the envy of other smaller search engine companies, who may also attempt to engineer successful public listing of their companies stock in the Stock Market. I plan to keep an eye on not only this company, but the movements of its stock price over time. I'll blog about it if I see anything worth writing about regarding this new publicly traded Internet Giant.


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