If you thought that Google and Microsoft were the only major global players in the search market, you’d be wrong. Yandex is the pre-eminent search engine in Russia, attracting almost 40 million unique users each month and commanding two thirds of the search market. With earnings of $135million in 2010, nearly doubling the figure from a year earlier, it’s not a search engine to take lightly.
Investors clearly agree too, with many clamouring to get their hands on a share of the company ahead of its floatation on the New York Stock Exchange this week. In fact some reports suggest that this could well be the biggest Internet float since Google in August 2004, with Yandex currently looking to achieve around $1.4billion of funding (Google achieved around $1.67 billion at $85 a share).
After the huge success of LinkedIn last week, there is a huge buzz about the potential for Yandex to achieve a similar result. Currently the Russian search engine is valuing stock at between $24 and $25, a rise from the original estimates of $20 to $22. LinkedIn though, had a hugely impressive increase, eventually jumping from an initial $32 prior to floatation all the way up to a high of around $120 in its first day of trading (it has now settled between around $84 and $92.
Inevitably, there is more talk of .com bubbles and investors trying to get in on ‘new’ (Yandex is actually 14 years old), or at the very least, newly available, technologies. Yandex has been a company that is looking to grow beyond the borders of Russia. In fact it was around this time last year that they rolled out an English language version of their search engine to help achieve this.
With the value of online companies spiralling (look no further than Skype for a good example of this), IPOs and stock frenzies are likely to become more commonplace. The big players, like Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, are always looking to buy new businesses outright to develop their own service offerings too, helping to increase/inflate these prices further. But whether it’s another bubble that’s primed for bursting, well there’s no way of knowing for certain.