Meet the Yexter

Austin Chu

Staff Software Engineer

"And in a testament to how central people are to our culture, the team has continued to be amazing, even as we've grown from less than 100 to almost 1,500 teammates."

Why did you choose Yext? What’s keeping you here?

I was lucky enough to be graduating from MIT at the same time Yext was looking for its first-ever class of software engineering college hires. A couple of fortuitous coincidences put Yext on my radar, and then Howard's magnetic pitch, plus the unique energy of the people and the office (back then a single floor in Chelsea Market about the size of our NYC cafeteria today!) reeled me in. Ironically, less than a year later, we were already pivoting away from the specific product Howard originally pitched us on. But the vision that he had to build a big, important tech company here in NYC helping businesses connect with their customers remains at Yext's core to this day. And in a testament to how central people are to our culture, the team has continued to be amazing, even as we've grown from less than 100 to almost 1,500 teammates.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live very close to our old 1 Madison office with my wife, the pianist Eunbi Kim, and our cat Mackerel. I'm an avid runner, and I've logged at least two miles every day since 2017. I don't have a gym membership, so this usually means running down East River Park come rain, snow, heat, or cold! Half the reason I love running though is it gives me time to enjoy another of my hobbies: podcasts. My listening diet mostly skews toward current events and public policy, with The Ezra Klein Show a particular favorite. Yes, I'm one of those weirdos who listen at 1.5x speed. Beyond that, I like to stay involved in my immediate community, and have been president of my co-op apartment building's board for the past few years. Also during the pandemic I got bitten by the K-drama bug for my main source of lighter entertainment.

What does a typical day in your role look like?

Days vary widely from week to week, as projects I'm involved in go through different phases. Sometimes I'll be deep in low-level coding work; other times, I'll be spending more time in Google Docs, trying to lay out bigger picture ideas about where I think various aspects of our technology stack should be headed. There are of course meetings and chats, both formal and informal, that are the lifeblood of working out new ideas and getting everyone aligned in the same direction. And there's usually a background rate of interviews, helping to make sure our engineering team continues to grow fast enough to meet our insatiable innovation desires.

What was one of your favorite moments or projects at Yext?

Lots of great moments come to mind, from the X Days that brought the whole company together in NYC, to shenanigans at engineering offsites, to the celebration on our IPO day. But one early moment that really showed Yext's culture of "company as family" was our response to Hurricane Sandy. We woke up the morning after Sandy passed through to a surreal scene —almost all of lower Manhattan without power, including the Yext office and many Yexters' homes. Our leaders scrambled that day to check in on everyone, but beyond that, they prioritized figuring out how to bring everyone back together.

By the following day, we had set up temporary working spaces in various Times Square hotel conference rooms, where we gathered for the rest of that week, re-establishing a bit of normalcy and connection in what otherwise would have been an incredibly isolating time with communication networks down and transit crippled. We even helped Yexters whose apartments were particularly affected by the power outage get hotel rooms nearby.

What’s something you wished you’d known before starting the job?

It's been so long since I started at Yext that it's hard for me to think back that far! I've really grown up alongside Yext — when I joined, most everyone was in their 20s, and even Howard had just barely turned 30. Now so many of us from that era have gotten married, and parental leave notices are a common occurrence. Nightly impromptu karaoke might have receded to a more occasional event, but in many ways, Yext has become better equipped to tackle the marathon of building a truly enduring and globally impactful company.

What advice would you give to a Yexter starting out new?

Take every chance you can to get to know more Yexters! Our people have always been at the center of Yext, and we've built this company with an eye toward not only collecting the top talent, but also creating a friendly, open, and collaborative environment in which Yexters can thrive both professionally and personally.

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About

Title

Staff Software Engineer

Team:

Engineering

Yext Office:

NYC

Hometown:

Memphis, TN

Myers-Briggs Type:

ISFP

I've been a Yexter for:

11 years

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