Yandex.Taxi began as an on-demand transportation service in Moscow and today it operates an expansive ride-hailing business in 16 countries; a restaurant delivery service, Yandex.Eats; a meal-kit delivery service, Yandex.Chef; and an advanced self-driving car program. As the business continues to grow, we’re excited to announce the appointment of Yevgeny Senderov as Chief Financial Officer of Yandex.Taxi.
For nearly fifty years, people around the world have come together on April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day and take the initiative to protect the environment. We’re celebrating Earth Day 2019 by highlighting the importance of sustainable tech - specifically green data centres and their potential to improve local communities. Our data centre in Mäntsälä, Finland uses innovative heat recovery tech to transfer its excess heat to the local energy grid, providing up to half of the town’s energy needs. This excess recycled heat from the data centre results in lower energy prices and lowered carbon emissions in Mäntsälä. With data centres increasingly forming a crucial backbone for the tech that powers our lives, they stand to only grow in number and importance. Yandex is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to make these vital buildings environmentally friendly and useful to neighboring communities.
As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we feel we have a responsibility to help educate a future generation of data scientists, as well as encourage current learners interested in subjects such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through our education initiatives, we help provide the tools people need to learn the skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Our collaborations with universities are a central part of this effort. We believe that by sharing knowledge in partnerships with academic leaders, tech companies can help advance AI education to better prepare learners for the demands of the growing job market for data scientists.
Three years ago, Yandex launched our Zen platform to help users discover new and relevant personalised content online. The service, which is powered by Yandex’s AI technologies and global search index, helps users discover blogs, videos, images, and other posts by analyzing user behavior and providing content based on their interests. Now reaching over 40 million active users, a number of Yandex services incorporate Zen, in addition to other global browsers and messaging platforms.
Education is something we feel passionate about, and as STEM skills become essential in today’s work environments, we are committed to providing avenues for people to improve their data science expertise. As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we have a responsibility to help educate future generations in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. The Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free master’s-level program in computer science, is at the centerpiece of these efforts.
When our self-driving car program began in 2017, our ultimate goal was to create true Level 5 autonomous vehicles; that is, cars that do not require driver intervention in any driving scenario. Now in its third year, our self-driving team is getting ever closer to realizing this vision. Since August, we successfully launched our public robotaxi service, expanded testing of the technology to Israel, and demoed one of our cars without a driver on public roads during CES 2019. As we continue on our journey to develop advanced self-driving cars, today we’re excited to announce our first automotive collaboration.
People across the world tomorrow are celebrating International Women’s Day, honoring the achievements and significance of all women. Locally in Russia and most other countries in which Yandex operates, the holiday, often referred to as March 8th, is celebrated as a public holiday. Throughout the week, members of the Yandex community have been celebrating their female colleagues with gifts and acknowledgements of their hard work.
At the beginning of 2018, the start of the second year of our self-driving program, we graduated from closed-track testing to autonomous driving on the public roads of Moscow. Since then, we have made significant progress operating on the public streets of Russia, the United States, and Israel. Here’s a look at our progress in the last year since we made our public debut.
To help users better manage their emails, the Yandex.Mail team developed a new feature that more easily manages and filters users’ unwanted subscription emails. Yandex has integrated machine learning algorithms into the platform to determine which emails are coming from subscription services and can tell which emails from the same sender are relevant to users.
Yandex is thrilled to announce a new annual award for students and faculty in computer science and related fields, named after Ilya Segalovich, Yandex co-founder and creator of Yandex search. This award honors Ilya’s commitment to supporting education and his philanthropic pursuits and introduces a new Yandex education initiative to encourage the study of computer science.
Last week, Yandex’s self-driving car navigated the public streets of Las Vegas during CES 2019 without an operator behind the steering wheel. Our car safely delivered dozens of passengers to and from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to demonstrate the latest advancements of our self-driving technology and the scalability to operate the vehicle against new traffic conditions in Las Vegas.
In December 2018, the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, introduced a bill known as the “Sovereign Internet Law” (officially bill №608767-7). On January 17th, the bill was discussed in the Duma together with representatives of several Russia-based Internet companies, including Yandex. Following the meeting, sources in the media reported that Yandex supported the draft law. We want to take the opportunity to explain in English how we view this proposal.
Yandex recently joined the License on Transfer (LOT) Network and the Open Invention Network (OIN), two organizations committed to innovation and combating aggressive actions by patent assertion entities (PAEs), more commonly known as “patent trolls.” As a company that develops innovative technologies and believes in a fair and competitive environment, Yandex is happy to join other tech firms in preventing patent issues that undermine the basic principles of innovation.
Yandex is operating a self-driving car in Las Vegas with just a safety engineer in the front passenger seat (NVO Mode). The company will be providing demonstration rides of its self-driving car on the public streets of Las Vegas starting from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino during CES 2019.
Today we are excited to announce that Yandex has obtained permission from the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety to operate its self-driving car on public roads. The car is now officially approved to operate in autonomous mode with a safety engineer in the driver’s seat. Following extensive public road testing in Russia and most recently, in the US, this new location marks the third country where Yandex is testing its self-driving vehicles. Yandex is also one of the first companies to operate self-driving cars in Israel.
There has recently been a lot of news coverage regarding tech companies in the US and globally and their partnerships with Facebook. We wanted to explain the nature of our former partnership with Facebook to help our users better understand the dynamics and to ensure our users that we are deeply committed to protecting their privacy.
This was a big year for Yandex.Music, as we expanded to three new countries (Armenia, Uzbekistan, and Israel) and our streaming service became available through new platforms, like our Yandex.Station smart speaker and Yandex.Phone. Yandex.Music provides over 20 million listeners in six countries with access to tens of millions of tracks. As 2018 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look at what our users on Yandex.Music have been listening to the most over the past year. We’ve looked at stats for each country and found a few key trends that stand out. The Yandex.Music experts found the most popular artists for each market, as well as the most streamed foreign and Russian-language artists.
In early September, we announced the launch of our intelligent public cloud platform, Yandex.Cloud. The first phase of our launch included organizations that requested access to the platform and the companies that started using Yandex.Cloud during the initial test period. After this preliminary rollout period, we are excited to announce that Yandex.Cloud is now available for all enterprise users in Russia.
Today, Yandex announced the release of its first smartphone, Yandex.Phone. This device is the first phone to be fully powered by our intelligent assistant, Alice, and it is the first smartphone to be entirely integrated into the Yandex mobile ecosystem of apps and services right out of the box. We’re excited to provide mobile users with the best Yandex smartphone experience.