In the course of reporting this item about what would happen if Facebook opened an engineering office in New York, I spoke to Yext founder and CEO Howard Lerman about how the presence of big tech firms affects start-up culture here. Like some of the other techies we talked to, Mr. Lerman—whose company helps small businesses manage their online presences—said that the best way to predict the impact of such an expansion is to look at Google, whose New York engineering office opened 2003.
According to Mr. Lerman, the importance of that office—which currently employs about 900 engineers—in nurturing the start-up scene here cannot be overstated. “Google has made it possible to have a great engineering company in New York,” he said, noting that a significant number of Yext’s 20 engineers had spent time at Google’s New York office either as engineers or interns. “The fact that Google is here has absolutely enabled that because it has legitimized New York as a destination for engineers.”
None of that should surprise anyone. But this might: Mr. Lerman also said that six members of his development team had come to Yext through the company’s recruiting efforts at M.I.T. and Carnegie Mellon—efforts that actually involved going to those colleges and talking students into coming to work for them. This is extremely uncommon among New York start-ups, which tend not to have the resources to visit college campuses or attend career fairs to compete for talent alongside reps from Wall Street and big tech companies out west.
What other New York start-ups actually travel to college campuses in search of talent?