Yext CEO explains the 'huge tailwind' that boosted the stock 22% in public debut

Key Points
  • Yext stock started trading on the NYSE under the symbol YEXT
  • A $115.5 million IPO
We're investing heavily to be category winner: Yext CEO
We're investing heavily to be category winner: Yext CEO

Yext shares jumped nearly 22 percent on Thursday morning in their first day on the public market.

The stock started trading on Thursday on the New York Stock exchange under the symbol YEXT.

Yext provides cloud-based search technology that helps consumers "discover new businesses, read reviews and find accurate answers to their queries," according to regulatory filings. Businesses can subscribe to Yext's advertising and marketing services to control their "digital presence."

Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext.
Tobias Hase | picture-alliance | AP Image

For example, when a company like McDonald's opens a new location, they can enter the information into Yext's product, and it automatically updates with partners like Google Maps, Siri and Facebook, Yext CEO Howard Lerman told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Thursday.

"We have an enormous tailwind behind us," Lerman said. "When users look for things today — like, if they were to ask, 'Siri, where's the nearest McDonald's?' There's no web results...there's no 10 blue links. She just tells you directly."

The New York City-based start-up priced its 10.5 million share offering at $11 per share, above the expected range of $8 a share to $10 a share. Shares closed at $13.41 a share.

The $115.5 million public offering marks the latest in a string of tech offerings that have reawakened the IPO market. Yext is the sixth tech IPO year-to-date, the most number of tech IPOs to this point since 2014, according to Richard Peterson of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Yext posted revenue of $124.3 million in the latest fiscal year, up from $89.7 million the prior year. But the company posted a net loss of $43.2 million, wider than the $26.5 million loss the previous year, amid swelling sales and marketing costs.

"This is a winner-take-all market," Lerman said. "We're investing heavily to be the category leader."

A slew of enterprise technology companies, from MuleSoft to Alteryx to Okta, have gone public in recent months. It's a marked uptick from 2016, when only 30 IPOs priced in the first half of the year, the lowest level since 2009, according to Proskauer's 2017 IPO study.

"You always have to have a great idea, and you always have to be able to make it happen," said Lerman, who has founded several other start-ups. "It's the intersection of ideas and execution that makes things happen."

Yext rings the opening bell

Opening Bell, April 13, 2017
Opening Bell, April 13, 2017