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Who Needs Another Start-Up? Nirav Tolia Defends Nextdoor

Nearly 80 percent of San Francisco neighborhoods, and more than 7,000 communities across the country, are using a new social network that lets neighbors plan block parties, look for lost cats, and share crime alerts. Sounds great, but do we really need another social network?

 

Company: Nextdoor
Defender: NiravTolia, Cofounder and CEO

How is Nextdoor different from a plain old neighborhood listserv?
NT: That’s a little like asking why we use email when we already have the Postal Service. We verify addresses to ensure that members actually live in the neighborhoods, and our website lets users view a neighborhood map, access a residents’ directory, easily find recommendations, create subgroups, RSVP to events, and send urgent alerts.

About providing an address: I don’t want strange people knocking on my door.
NT: You have to share your street name, but you can obscure your street number. We’ve learned that people who include their real names and parts of their identity are much less likely to flame people or be trolls.

What are some examples of how people are using Nextdoor?
NT: When a child in Woodside contracted meningitis, the mother used Nextdoor to list the places where the child had been so that other parents would know if their kids might have been exposed. In Oakland, someone noticed that thieves were going home-to-home, so he posted it on Nextdoor. Five houses down, people were waiting for the gang and helped the police catch them.

Do you plan to spam users with ads?
NT: We’ve literally spent zero time thinking about how we’re going to make money. but we don’t plan to bombard members with pop-up ads. We may want to look specifically at what our members are asking for in their communities and then introduce them to local businesses that do those things.

Originally published in the February 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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