Yandex Launches Search for Startups

Yandex is launching its own search for startups, which the Russian search engine hopes to help grow — and then purchase them later.

Yandex “is looking for teams that are developing new technologies, applications and services,” Ilya Segalovich, one of the company's founders, told Vedomosti.

Several business incubators and startup communities have already agreed to help. Segalovich said Yandex was interested in all kinds of new web-based business models popular with a wide audience, but the main focus will be on multimedia technologies (face and map recognition, 3-D map modeling, speech analysis and synthesis), geolocation services (navigation, traffic monitoring), analysis and structuring of information flows (e-mails, blogs, newsfeeds), advertisement technologies and personal data management.

Yandex plans to provide startups with an application programming interface, or API, for all its services, which can attract teams that have a good idea but no technology to realize it, Segalovich said. For example, a project that needs, but cannot afford, a database of geographic maps will be able to get it from Yandex, he said.

The projects will be selected by venture capital funds and startup communities. StartupPoint, a business incubator at the Higher School of Economics, and GreenfieldProject have already agreed to participate. Yandex will not finance the startups, but may purchase them if they become successful.

Providing money and technology to startups is not enough — the small businesses need to know that they can grab the attention of big companies if they succeed, Sagalovich said. Arkady Moreinis, director of the Glavstart holding, which owns StartupPoint, agreed, saying startups lack infrastructural support.

Renat Garipov, a co-founder of Greenfield, said his company already knows of several projects it may offer Yandex. Lyudmila Pavlova, deputy head of HSE's business incubator, said Yandex was following international practice established by big tech companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Cisco, all of which collaborate with startups and support them.

A representative of Mail.ru said the company prefers to develop its own services without outside help, but it “scans the market for interesting offers and is open to investment ideas.”

But startups with concise business plans and competent management are a rarity, he said. Mail.ru has taken an alternative route to search for new services — it released an API that allows outside developers to create applications for its “Moi mir@Mail.ru” project, profiting together with Mail.ru.

I-Jet, a software company, earned $20 million in a year after using social network Vkontakte's API to develop the “Happy Farmer” game.

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