Russian search giant Yandex partners with local Facebook-clone VKontakte

Yandex, the Russian juggernaut of a search engine that is thought to be considering an IPO for up to $1.5 billion, has partnered with VKontakte, which is the largest social network in Russia. How big? The so-called Facebook-clone accounts for more than half of web traffic in the CIS region.

Under the arrangement, the public-facing elements of VKontakte user profiles will show up in Yandex searches in realtime. So far, this has resulted in Yandex indexing over 25 million user profiles, essentially creating a people search engine since results, where publicly available, will link to and/or display a person’s date of birth, place of birth, university or place of work.

In addition, Yandex uses face recognition technology to pick the relevant part of a user’s profile photo to turn it into a thumbnail for use in search results.

VKontakte status updates and blog posts will also be indexed by Yandex for use in its dedicated blog search engine. Interestingly, the daily number of new posts on VKontakte’s microblogging service is almost three times the number of new Russian posts on Twitter, says Yandex.