Vish Makhijani Leaves Operating Role At Yandex, Moves To Zynga

Yandex Labs CEO Vish Makhijani, a former Yahoo executive, will be leaving his operational role at the company, we’ve learned, and will be taking a new “senior operating role” at fast growing Zynga. He’ll start at Zynga in June and will join the Yandex board of directors.

Makhijani joined Yandex, the largest Russian search engine, in June 2008, less than a year ago, to create Yandex Labs. The labs group is a Silicon Valley based tech and business development project with ten or so employees. Arkady Borkovsky, currently CTO of Yandex Labs, will be taking over the group.

It’s a little unusual that Makhijani would leave Yandex so soon after joining, given how well the company is doing. They filed to go public late last year on 2008 revenues of more than $300 million, but later pulled the registration statement. The company has 1,700 employees.

But Makhijani says he’ll continue to work with Yandex at the board level, and has accomplished much of what he set out to do with Yandex Labs. And he’s exciting about working with Zynga, which is clearly on IPO or big buyout track itself with annual revenue in the $100 million range.

Prior to Yandex Makhijani was SVP and General Manager of the Yahoo Search Group. He left amid the general chaos at Yahoo last year.