Open letter from Arkady Volozh, CEO of Yandex
2017 was an outstanding year for Yandex. Our team made significant strides in advancing the ways we help our millions of users more easily and efficiently navigate the online and offline world. In this post, I want to highlight some of our accomplishments over the past year. I also want to express my gratitude to the truly impressive team that made 2017 such an incredible year for Yandex.
This year, as we celebrated our 20th anniversary, we delivered significant advancements in AI that are a culmination of two decades of work in machine learning. In 2017 we launched our Machine Intelligence and Research (MIR) division, a new cross-functional unit that has unified our core machine learning technologies. MIR enhanced and launched several intelligent products and services, including the initiative to open-source CatBoost, an award-winning machine learning library that has seen significant adoption with thought leaders in the global AI community. I want to thank all of our team members who contributed to AI enhancements on products such as our core Search product, Yandex.Zen, Yandex.Weather, Yandex.Music, and Yandex.Translate.
I am proud of all of the talented men and women who work at Yandex and their contributions to the field of machine learning. This year the Yandex School of Data Analysis celebrated its 10th anniversary of educating the next generation of data scientists in Russia through a free Master’s level program taught by top experts in the fields of Computer Science and Data Analysis.
Our work here at Yandex has led us to many important achievements that not only impact the experiences of our users but also advancements in the global technology community. This year we were excited to introduce our intelligent assistant, Alice, which represents the next generation of search and is the only mass-market assistant in the world able to freely converse with its users. This year we also made strides in advancing the future of ridesharing. The Yandex.Taxi team launched its driverless technology with the debut and successful testing of its autonomous vehicle. Autonomous vehicles will transform the economics of the ridesharing ecosystem and we are proud to be leaders in the space.
2017 represents a transformational year of growth for Yandex in the transportation industry. Our Yandex.Taxi business continues to revolutionize transportation with faster, cleaner and more expansive services for our users in 300+ cities across multiple markets. Yandex.Taxi has provided over 335 million rides from its launch through the end of September 2017. In July, we announced a deal valued at $3.4B in which Yandex.Taxi and Uber’s local ridesharing business will be combined in Russia and neighboring states to offer an even better and more efficient services for our users.
This year we also launched Yandex.Auto, a multifunctional voice-controlled solution for connected car multimedia systems that incorporates Yandex solutions into the dashboards of cars produced by Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, AvtoVaz, Ford and Kamaz.
As we look ahead to 2018, we are also excited about this year’s joint venture plans with Sberbank to build an end-to-end eCommerce marketplace for Russian online shoppers. In the coming years, Sberbank’s $500M contribution will enable us to rapidly accelerate the development of our leading eCommerce platform, Yandex.Market, which provides 20 million monthly users with 150 million product offerings from over 20,000 domestic and international merchants.
And as I wrote back in April, users and the technology community have a lot to appreciate in 2017 and to look forward to in the years ahead now that Android offers a truly open platform for all application developers in Russia. For the first time, 55 million Russian Android users were given a choice of search engines on their mobile devices this year. Moving forward, all new Android smartphones in Russia will prompt consumers to choose which search engine they would like to use on their devices. This has led to a more dynamic and competitive ecosystem that breeds innovation and opportunities. Innovation of our mobile search offerings and the opening of this ecosystem has led to a 10 percentage point increase in Yandex market share on Android devices in 2017.
Looking back at these accomplishments, I’m in awe of the year we’ve had and I am humbled by the talent and drive within our organization that has made this progress possible. This year we have not only improved upon many of our existing services but we have explored new ways we can help our communities through new initiatives like our Yandex.Health telemedicine offerings or our digital learning platform for early education.
I want to thank our team for all their hard work this year and our users for choosing Yandex. I’m eager to build on our momentum in 2018 and continue to innovate and improve the exceptional experiences we offer users at every step of their journeys. By combining technological innovation with best-in-class products and services, there is no limit to what Yandex and its users can achieve in the new year.
Happy New Year!