‘She was like a big sister to all of us’ — Tech worker killed with her kids trying to flee Ukraine should be considered more than a statistic, colleague says

Employees of SE Ranking, the Silicon Valley company whose chief accountant is the first known tech worker to be killed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, want Tatiana Perebeinis to be remembered for more than how she died, a colleague told MarketWatch on Wednesday.

“She was like a big sister to all of us. Kind, smart, funny, fearless, brave,” SE Ranking spokeswoman Ksenia Khirvonina said in an interview via video link from Dubai, where she fled to escape fighting in Ukraine. “She never lost her optimism until the last moments, even from her basement. She kept telling us, ‘It’s going to be fine.’ »

Khirvonina’s lingering memory of her friend came during a team building weekend in neighboring Georgia just before the invasion. Perebeinis convinced a reluctant Khirvonina to go paragliding for the first time.

“She urged me to try it, and I can’t thank her enough for the experience,” Khirvonina said. “It will forever be my memory of her.”

Perebeinis, who was essentially the chief financial officer of SE Ranking, and her two children, Nikita, 18, and Alise, 9, were killed by Russian artillery on Sunday in Irpin, a town near Kiev, as they tried to flee the country. His death was captured on video and stills, one of which was on the front page of the New York Times on Sunday in one of the most indelible and gruesome images of the Russian invasion. Perebeinis is survived by her husband, Sergiy, who is still in Ukraine and planning his funeral.

Read more: Ukrainian mother killed with her 2 children by Russian bombings identified as chief accountant of a Silicon Valley company

Perebeinis, 43, who started as an accountant at the SEO software company in 2016 was based in Kyiv, as were about half of SE Ranking’s 100 employees. The company is based in Palo Alto, California.

“There are no words to describe our grief or to fix our pain,” the company said. published on facebook. “But for us it is crucial not to let Tania and her children Alise and Nikita remain statistics. His family was the victim of unprovoked shooting of civilians, which under any law is a crime against humanity.

For Khirvonina, who left war-torn Ukraine for Dubai with her mother on February 22 on one of the last commercial flights out of the country, the continued invasion has left her angry, confused and “feeling helpless. “.

“We are trying to cope. No one I know thought this would happen,” said Khirvonina, whose aunt, cousins ​​and friends are still in Ukraine. “Cities are surrounded. There is no water, gas, food, nothing. They are simply waiting in the basements for humanitarian aid.

The irreparable loss of SE Ranking worries dozens of tech companies whose employees are scattered across Ukraine, a country the size of Texas with many tech workers. Startups, midsize companies and big brands such as Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,

Oracle Corp. ORCL,
Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO,
and Snap Inc. SNAP,
have made significant investments in a country that has been a vital resource for engineering talent, 3D modeling and customer service.

Cloud services company Wix.com WIX,
one of Israel’s largest employers in Ukraine, said it had evacuated most of its 1,000 employees and their families to Turkey, with Wix covering the moving costs. Cisco also evacuated employees from Ukraine.

See also: Tech companies with employees in Ukraine are putting contingency plans in place

Ukraine ranks 37th out of 90 countries as a digital economy, according to Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global affairs at Tufts University’s Fletcher School.

“It’s very difficult for everyone,” said Khirvonina, who has no idea where she will end up. “Our company. We have no words but curses for the Russians. But this you should know: the more you hit the Ukrainians, the more they fight back.”

SE Ranking revealed in a tweet on Wednesday that it was halting its operations in Russia by not allowing the creation of new accounts in the company or authorizing payment for current subscriptions.

It is one of many companies that are suspending their business activities in Russia. Other companies to announce the move include Apple Inc. AAPL,
Google mother Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,

Meta Platforms Inc. FB,
Oracle Corp. ORCL,
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM,
Walt Disney Co. DIS,
Netflix Inc. NFLX,
Boeing Co. BA,
Ford Motor Co.F,
Airbnb Inc. ABNB,
Coca-Cola Co. KO,
Nike Inc. NKE,
and Starbucks Corp. SBUX,

Read more: Yale professor monitors companies still operating in Russia despite Ukraine invasion – and many are now pulling out

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