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Forbes ranks the Top-10 Russian internet companies

0 7 March 2014

This is the fourth time that Forbes has ranked the top-30 Russian internet companies. However, this year they have chosen a different format - splitting the ‘top-30’ into 10 companies and 20 online retailers, in order to take into account the e-commerce boom that has transformed the Runet landscape in the past couple of years. 

Companies were ranked by total revenue for 2013, which totalled $8.5 billion. Revenues of public companies were taken from their financial reports, while in order to assess the revenue of private companies (the majority) Forbes interviewed management, shareholders and analysts. To try and sure up these estimates Forbes used data from SPARK, a market analysis company. 

It is also important to point out that not all the companies operating on the Russian internet were eligible for inclusion - Forbes chose to exclude companies like MVideo and Svyaznoy, which have a significant online presence but whose principal business is offline. Banks (eg. Tinkoff Credit Systems) and payment services (Qiwi) were also omitted, as were international companies with Russian branches.  

With that in mind, here are Forbes’ top-10 Russian internet companies in 2014.


#1 - Yandex


  • Revenue: $1238 million
  • Founded: 2000
  • Website: Yandex.ru
  • Number of employees: 4500
  • Audience: 250 million searches a day processed by Yandex
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Ownership: Yandex was created at the end of the 1990s by IT-entrepreneur Arkady Volozh (in the photo, No. 94 in Forbes’ Russian Ratings, worth $1.15 billion) and programmer Ilya Sergalovich. In the summer of 2013 10.6% of the company belonged to Volozh and the fund Baring Vostok owned 7%. When Ilya Segalovich died in July 2013, his family inherited his shares of 2.5%.
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Business: Yandex is the largest search engine in Runet (Russian-language internet), and, according to calculations by LiveInternet, it accounts for 62% of all searches. In comparison the figure for Google is just 26.5%. The large majority of Yandex’s profits come from revenue generated by contextual advertising, which, quite remarkably, allowed the company to generate more revenue that leading Russian state TV channel 1TV (Pyervy Kanal)
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In the past year: In July Yandex launched a beta-version of its ‘Islands’ platform, which replaces the usual list of search responses with thematically grouped ‘islands’ in which clients will be able to access services, such as flight bookings or retail purchases, without leaving Yandex. The company also launched a single basket on its Yandex.Market e-commerce platform, which allows clients to order products without visiting the retailer’s site and it began to sell advertising for Mail.ru's search service. 
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Deals: In October Yandex bought leading Russian film database Kinopoisk.ru for $80 million. 
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Fact: Yandex.Maps now features a detailed map of the whole world.

#2 - Mail.ru Group


  • Revenue: $860.5 million from official data, published after date of printing
  • Founded: 1998
  • Website: Copr.mail.ru
  • Number of employees: more than 3000
  • Audience: more than 100 million individual users worldwide
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Ownership: The group grew out of a postal service created by St Petersburg programmers. Among the major owners of the holding group is NMT billionaire Alisher Usmanov (Russia’s richest man according to the 2013 Forbes Rankings), who owns 45%, and South African media group Naspers, which holds 29%. CEO Dmitri Grishin holds a minority share. Mail.ru’s Group’s total worth on 5th February 2014 was $8.8 billion.
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Business: The main income for Mail.ru comes from advertising and applications. The Group owns the Mail.ru email service, Russia’s #2 social network Odnoklassniki (43 million users a month), the largest Russian job-searching website Headhunter.ru, and messenger services ICQ and “Mail.ru Agent”, as well as 39.9% of VKontakte, 10.4% of QIWI and stakes in other projects. 
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In the past year: Mail.ru entered the US market under the new brand My.com.

#3 - VK.com


  • Revenue: $215 million
  • Founded: 2006
  • Website: VK.com
  • Employees: unknown
  • Audience: 60 million users daily 
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Ownership: In April 2013 the Ilya Sherbovich’s fund United Capital Partners (UCP) bought 48% of the network from founders Vyacheslav Mirilashvili and Lev Leviev. At the start of 2014 it became known that VK’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov had sold his share (12.5%) to Ivan Tavrin, a business partner of Alisher Usmanov. 39.99% of VKontakte now belongs to the Mail.ru Group, whose major shareholder is Usmanov.
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Business: VK.com is Russia’s most popular social network, and it is similar in many ways to Facebook. However, it is yet to fully monetize its strong position in the Russian market. It currently earns money through advertising and fees from developers of various applications hosted on the network, but new shareholder UCP has expressed concerns about the lack of a profit-generating resource, and would also like to hold an IPO. 
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In the past year: An array of key positions in VKontakte were taken by people who formerly worked in businesses connected to Alisher Usmanov, who controls Megafon and Mail.ru Group.

#4 - RBC Media 


  • Revenue: $156 million
  • Founded: 1993
  • Website: Rbc.ru, Qip.ru
  • Number of employees: 1500
  • Audience: More than 72 million people use their resources every month.
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Ownership: The company was born in 1992 when economics student German Kaplun together with programmer Aleksander Mogulchik began releasing daily bulletins with business news, analysis and exchange rates. In 2010 Mikhail Prokhorov’s (the third richest Russian) Onexim Group took control of RBC holdings with the acquisition of a 56.36% stake. 
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Business: The organisation’s holdings now include the news site Rbc.ru, TV channel RBC, RBC magazine, the newspaper “RBC Daily” and three dozen more information resources. Revenue from online activities in 2013, generated from advertising and services, amounted to $118 million. .
In the past year: At the end of the year, Nikolai Molibog became CEO of RBC, and Dirk Sauer, who had held that position, moved to head up the Board of Directors. The former Editor-in-Chief of the Forbes magazine Elisaveta Osetinskaya became Editor-in-Chief of the Group’s media projects.


#5 - Rambler-Afisha-SUP


  • Revenue: $133 million
  • Founded: 2013
  • Sites: LiveJournal.com, Rambler.ru, Afisha.ru
  • Number of employees: 1500
  • Audience: The general audience of the media holding comes to 37.2 million people
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Ownership: Aleksander Mamut (the 45th richest Russian), Vladimir Potanin (the 7th richest Russian, worth $14.3 billion).
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Business: The holdings main assets are: Rambler.ru, a site about city-living; Afisha.ru, where you can find out all about cinema and theatre listings, concerts, exhibitions and other events; news sites Lenta.ru, Gazeta.ru, Championat.com; popular blogging platform LiveJournal.com; games site Kanobu.ru; contextual advertising site Begun.ru.
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In the past year: They have signed an agreement with Chinese firm China Telecom over a partnership in the mobile gaming field, and in Russia have launched NFC-wallet, which allows you to use your phone as a payment card or travel pass.

#6 - i-Free


  • Revenue: $130 million
  • Founded: 2001
  • Website: i-free.com
  • Employees: unknown
  • Audience: iFree services and products are available in 100 countries
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Ownership: After attending a conference about the internet, two friends Kiril Gorinya and Sergey Shulga, interested in innovations in the mobile industry, decided to create a startup. After a year they were joined by Kiril Petrov, who had up until this point been working at MTC.
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Business: The company creates mobile apps and other products in the field of mobile and NFC-technology (near-field contactless communication). More than half of their revenue comes from b2b. The firm is based in Saint Petersburg.
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In the past year: They have signed an agreement with Chinese firm China Telecom over a partnership in the mobile gaming field, and in Russia have launched NFC-wallet, which allows you to use your phone as a payment card or travel pass.

#7 - Game Insight


  • Revenue: $110 million
  • Founded: 2010
  • Website: Game-insight.com
  • Employees: 900
  • Audience: 250 million
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Ownership: The founders of the company are Alisa Chumachenko and a few of her partners. Until the end of 2009 she worked for the company Astrum, but after its merger with Mail.ru Group she founded her own game developer – Game Insight, which raised investment from IMI.VC, a fund belonging to former Astrum President Igor Matsanyuk. 
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Business: Game Insight develops and publishes computer games. All the company’s games  work on the system free-to-play: you play for free and earn bonuses when you pay. The company has 35 games - 25 for mobile and for 10 social networks. Of these, 8 are cross-platform applications.
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In the past year: They have adapted games for South Korea, UAE, Turkey and Brazil.

#8 - 2GIS


  • Revenue: $97 million
  • Founded: 1999
  • Website: 2gis.ru
  • Employees: 3000
  • Audience: 20 million people use 2GIS’s electronic guides and maps.
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Ownership: 2GIS is a family business run by Novosibirsk entrepreneur Aleksander Sisoev (in the photo) and his wife Marina. Sisoev got the idea for 2GIS after he created an electronic city plan for telephone operators.
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Business: The first 2GIS programme, combining maps and guides, was released on disks. The project now earns money from advertising and is free for users. The maps cover 250 towns in Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Italy and other countries.
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In the past year: The service was launched in Prague (Czech Republic) and Limassol (Cyprus). Users of 2GIS can reserve a table at a restaurant, book tickets at the cinema or make an appointment at the hairdressers. 

#9 - SuperJob


  • Revenue: $65 million
  • Founded: 2000
  • Website: Superjob.ru
  • Employees: 192
  • Audience: 920 000 employers use Superjob
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Ownership: The service is owned by Aleksey Zacharov and Sergey Gabestro, who also created Fabrikant.ru (site for competitive procurement) and Obed.ru (order and delivery of meals to offices).
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Business: Superjob is the second most popular recruitment site on Runet, after HH.ru, with an average of 6 million visitors to the site every month, according to TNS.  The company’s headquarters are in Moscow, but you can search for work in the whole of Russia using the site.
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In the past year: The company launched an app compatible with all iOS and Android devices.

#10 - Avito


  • Revenue: $60 million
  • Founded: 2007
  • Website: Avito.ru
  • Employees: 176
  • Audience: By February 2014 17,466,208 classified ads had been posted on the site.
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Ownership: The idea to create a free classified ads site in Russia came from Swedish entrepreneur Jonas Nordlander. He was supported by investor Filip Engelbert, and in 2007 together they launched Avito.ru. Among the portfolio of investors are Kinnevik, Vostok Nafta, Baring Vostok Capital Partners, Accel Partners and Naspers.
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Business: Avito.ru is the largest trading site in Runet; every day 400,000 new advertisements are posted. According to a company statement, trade from the site amounted to more than €20 billion in 2012. The main source of income comes from advertising sales and service fees.
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In the past year: In May Avito was merged with Slando.ru and OLXr.u, which both belonged to South African firm Naspers: Slando.ru and OLX.ru. As part of the deal Naspers invested $50 million in Avito, receiving an 18.6% share in the company.

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