(Bloomberg)—Brand-management firm Yext Inc. is doubling down on New York City with a shiny new headquarters in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and plans to hire hundreds more employees.
The company, which builds software to help businesses keep their information up to date on websites such as Yelp and Facebook, expects to hire 500 people in New York over the next five years, Chief Executive Officer Howard Lerman said in an interview. To accommodate the growth, Yext signed a 12-year lease for the entire office portion of 61 Ninth Ave., Vornado Realty Trust’s new concrete-and-glass tower across from Google’s New York headquarters and Chelsea Market.
Originally, Aetna Inc. was supposed to move into the Rafael Viñoly-designed building, but the health insurer dropped those plans amid a takeover by CVS Health Corp. Yext, currently based at SL Green Realty Corp.’s 1 Madison Ave., aims to move its workers into the 142,500-square-foot (13,200-square-meter) tower at the end of the year.
The company said it will pay about $1 million a month in rent, and expects to build out the property with features including a theater for corporate events.
Yext, founded in 2006, was drawn to the Meatpacking area because it feels like “true New York,” Lerman said. That’s why it made more sense than the Financial District, which triggers memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the new Hudson Yards development on the far west side, which feels disconnected from the city, he said. Yext also liked the idea of working next to Google.
“Everyone in 2006 told us that we were crazy to try to start a tech company in New York,” Lerman said. “New York tech would not exist in its current form without Google’s decision to open an office here in the early 2000s -- that’s what legitimized New York as a tech hub.”
Since then, the city’s technology industry has grown to include more offices for Google, Apple Inc. and Spotify Technology SA. Earlier this month, Netflix Inc. said it plans to build a production hub that would bring hundreds of jobs and up to $100 million of investment to New York. Amazon.com Inc. had intended to open a mega-campus in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, but abandoned the deal in February following public backlash over the expected tax breaks and impact on housing costs and transportation.
Earlier this year, Yext announced plans to hire 500 people in Northern Virginia and set up a new hub in Rosslyn, just a short drive from the site where Amazon is building a second headquarters. The company currently has around 1,000 employees, about 600 of whom are in New York, and it will probably need to find more space as it continues hiring in the city, Lerman said.
“Tech companies like Yext are thriving and expanding across the state thanks to New York’s top-notch talent, educational institutions and cultural resources," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
New York is offering Yext as much as $6 million in performance-based tax credits, contingent upon the company’s ability to create and retain jobs.
--With assistance from Gerrit De Vynck.To contact the reporter on this story: Lily Katz in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Debarati Roy at [email protected] Christine Maurus
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