Northern Virginia’s status as an emerging East Coast tech hub got a major lift Thursday morning. Yext, a New York-based tech company that connects businesses’ real-world information to the online touch-points where consumers access it, announced plans to hire 500 people over the next five years at a new office in Rosslyn, in Arlington County.
Yext founder Howard Lerman said in a phone interview that his company chose the location to benefit from skilled technology workers who are part of the pool of government contractors in the region. No tax incentives are involved, he said. Yext is looking to fill its Rosslyn office with not only engineers and software developers, but also those with an expertise in advertising and digital marketing.
“Northern Virginia is a reservoir of untapped talent,” Lerman said. “I think it’s the quiet next Silicon Valley.”
Yext is coming as the area’s technology community appears to be growing. For years, Northern Virginia has consistently outpaced its neighbors in job creation.
The region has struggled with widespread office vacancies, leading its economic development boosters to aggressively recruit companies from elsewhere. They succeeded in attracting influential corporations, which have set up offices and headquarters in places such as Rosslyn and Virginia’s Tysons Corner, drawing many with generous tax incentives. And Crystal City in Virginia is to become the site of half of Amazon’s second headquarters, bringing in about 25,000 jobs. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Yext plans to occupy the top three floors of 1101 Wilson Blvd. and make its logo visible on Rosslyn’s skyline near buildings occupied by Deloitte, CEB and Nestlé. Yext will maintain its headquarters in New York.
The publicly traded company specializes in what it calls digital knowledge management technology, which small and large businesses use to connect their information to more than 150 digital platforms that consumers use to look up information about businesses. Companies, including Marriott, T-Mobile and Ben & Jerry’s, use it to ensure that information about store locations, hours and products are fully and accurately represented on platforms such as Google Maps, Facebook and Instagram. Most of Yext’s customers come from financial services or the health-care industries. Lerman gushes about the company’s mission to “get the truth online everywhere” by ensuring that information comes directly from the source.
The company’s Rosslyn build-out is a homecoming for Lerman. He hails from the Vienna area, as do two close colleagues, Sean MacIsaac and Tom Dixon. The three friends founded their first company, a software consulting firm called Intwine, in nearby Reston Town Center. They moved to New York when Intwine was acquired.
Lerman was among three co-counders who started Yext in New York in 2006 and grew it with the help of venture funding, pulling off an initial public offering in 2017.
“If you look at the history of the Internet, it all started with AOL in Loudoun County, and all of that traffic still flows through there,” Lerman said.