Howard Lerman is the Yext CEO. The 37-year old leads the company that made one of the largest public debuts ever for a New York City born startup.

Yext stock began trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange surging by 22%. The tech company now has a worth of more than $1 billion.

Lerman grew up in Virginia, attended Duke University and never quite could imagine heading to Silicon Valley. Lerman said when you start a new business you need reliable people around you that are willing to work for next to nothing for a long period.

He had and still has those people. His COO Tom Dixon he first met when the two were in middle school. He remembers when Dixon brought one of his Pentium chips to class and that started what became a long friendship linked because of a love for tech the two share.

Yext is one company of five Lerman founded thus far. It is basically a new version of the old-fashioned phone book. Yext means “next Yellow pages.”

Companies such as McDonald’s, a client of Yext, need the addresses, contact info and hours for its thousands of restaurants up to date across sites like Yelp, Google Maps, Bing, Facebook, etc., etc.

Yext has software for businesses to update information on each of those types of sites with only one click. Lerman said the company is pioneering a brand new market. He co-founded the business in 2006.

However, for all the success it has had, the company is not profitable yet. Like many of the young tech companies, a great deal of risk exists about the growth Yext will have over the coming years as well as if it will generate higher sales.

Yext had more than 600 employees and offices in the U.S. as well as Europe. Lerman speaks German and currently is learning to speak Chinese, which could be a hint to the next move Yext makes.

People have compared Lerman to iconic tech chief executives such as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff for the ability he has to attract crowds, and to late Steve Jobs the cofounder of Apple for the love he has for wearing black turtlenecks, which he wears each day.

As well as Yext, Lerman created Confide, the app for secret messaging. It has received a great deal of media attention of late following news that White House staffers had been using Confide for chatting confidentially with one another and with journalists.

Confide calls itself a secure app with end to end military grade encryption, though some question if that is a true statement.

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