/// The Future of Global Disaster Response Is Nextdoor
Nextdoor is taking another step toward becoming the Facebook of local: The neighborhood social network is preparing an international expansion, spearheaded by LinkedIn veteran Minna King.
King, most recently of SurveyMonkey, started work just two weeks ago with the title of “VP International,” says Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia. Nextdoor is still in the early planning stages for how it will add international neighborhoods in 2013. The move, Tolia says, came after governments began requesting Nextdoor open abroad to help localities coordinate disaster relief efforts. “Many governments have said, ‘We would like to use Nextdoor as an international tool,’” Tolia says.
The plans highlight Nextdoor’s growing role facilitating disaster communications, delivering routine municipal notices and enabling other forms of coordination more typically handled directly by government. Betting that Nextdoor will dominate intra-neighborhood online communications, Greylock Partners joined a $19 million investment round for the San Francisco-based company this summer. Greylock sees Nextdoor as a logical complement to Greylock investment LinkedIn, the dominant social network for work, and Greylock investment Facebook, the dominant social network for friends and family.
Nextdoor’s ambitions to become a crucial neighborhood hub were bolstered this month when the company was inundated with activity related to Hurricane Sandy. Particularly in areas where the mobile phone network outlived the power grid, Nextdoor helped neighbors assess damage, share news with one another, and count heads. In New York City, for example, Nextdoor’s “Urgent Alert” texting system was used to notify “Zone A” residents of a mandatory evacuation. In Pennsylvania, members sent alerts about curfews and areas where vehicles were prohibited, and in Virgina Nextdoor helped alert residents to temporarily shelters – including some for their pets.
At a time when neighbors seem to be socializing less with one another than they have historically, Nextdoor has found evidence that they are still interested in accomplishing specific goals with one another, whether it’s thwarting the installation of parking meters, stopping burglars, or just planning a block party.
“You don’t have contact info for your neighbors,” says Tolia, “but there are [disaster] times when it’s critical to find out, Is there anyone in the neighborhood, is my car which was left outside underwater?”
Another mark of importance came in August, when Nextdoor announced that the city of San Jose will use its network to send notices about community events, volunteer opportunities, and crime to neighborhood groups. Some 54 other municipalities have similarly partnered with Nextdoor.
There are plenty more government partnerships to form, given that Nextdoor hosts more than 5,000 communities across the U.S. But since Nextdoor has apparently received enough municipal overtures to launch a global expansion kick, it can probably afford to let governments come to the company rather than vice versa.
“It’s not as sexy as a lot of the tech stuff out there right now,” Tolia says of his company, “but it’s nice when something our generation has created helps people far away from Silicon Valley.”