Russia’s tech industry faces ‘brain drain’ as workers flee

“We don’t have enough quality apartments for highly qualified people with high salaries and high standards,” said Aram Shahbandarian, a former Google employee based in Yerevan who helps many Russians settle in the city. “Yerevan is cracking.”

Vahan Kerobyan, Armenia’s Minister of Economy, said in an interview that as a country with a strategic relationship with Russia, it does not sell itself as trying to pull companies out of Russia, but if companies decide to move, it would work to accommodate them. .

“The Armenian tech community is supportive of its Russian friends, and the government is very concerned about giving Russian companies a nice and not too expensive place to work,” he said. Mr. Kerobyan estimated that 43,000 people left Russia for Armenia, half of whom held Russian passports and the other half held Armenian passports.

Miro, an American software company, chartered flights to Yerevan for its Russian employees and transferred them to two hotels in the heart of the city, Mr Kerobyan said. X-tensive, a software development company in Russia, also moved its employees to the Armenian city because its main client, ServiceTitan, has an office there, he said.

Miro has publicly stated that it is moving its workers out of Russia. X-tensive did not respond to a request for comment.

Many of these workers may eventually move elsewhere as visa restrictions require them to leave their current home after a certain number of days. Many do not know where they could go. Others are planning to move to promising tech hubs further afield, such as Dubai and Lisbon.

Artem Taganov, founder and managing director of a Russian start-up called HintEd, said he knows about 70 Russian business founders who, like him, fled to Armenia. If entrepreneurs stay in Russia, he said, their businesses will only be able to serve the local market.

Kimberly B. Nguyen