Yandex Co-Founder Ilya Segalovich Dies

photo Ilya Segalovich

Ilya Segalovich, 1964-2013

I was , like many others, saddened by the death of Ilya Segalovich at the weekend.

I have been watching Yandex for a while as one of my clients works internationally. I saw him speak relatively recently at a conference and was inspired by his talk. I had no idea at the time that he was so ill.

The atmosphere he captured was one of excitement, of being at the edge of something new. There has been little as exciting since the end of last century when an interesting start up, Google, revolutionised our online lives, breaking all web design roles by putting a simple box on a page and inviting us to ‘search’.

Yandex allows people to collect all of their data in a single zip file. Segalovich encompassed some of that innocent hopefulness that startups have – a determination to be on the side of the user.  He was calling for other search engines to do the same, and to allow people to port this information across search engines – perhaps at a browser level. The searcher he claimed, should own their own data.

In times when our online profiles and privacy issues are coming under such close scrutiny, this makes perfect sense. Yes, like most things, I’m sure someone will find a way to use it for something other than good, but wouldn’t it be a wonderful tribute to the man if it took off.

It will take bigger blogs than this little one in the corner of PR-dom to promote his idea, to get our data back in our own hands. And persuading Google, Baidu and Bing to take up the banner will be no easy task. But we should remember that Yandex is brave enough to take on Google in the search space.

Personally I wouldn’t bet against them.

And I can’t think of a more fitting tribute for a man who took the World on, head on.

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