Nextdoor introduces neighborhood social network

Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:05pm EDT

* Facebook-inspired company lets neighbors connect

* Nextdoor will eventually run local advertising

By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The team behind customer-review site Epinions.com launched another community-based site Wednesday, but this time, for physical communities rather than virtual ones.

Nextdoor.com allows neighbors to form online groups to share information on details like babysitter recommendations, leaf collection, and events in the community. The information comes in updates, Facebook style, but also has tabs that allow for easy retrieval of tips on things like good handymen or items for sale.

Co-founder Nirav Tolia is betting there is room for yet another social network. Just as people who use Facebook for social reasons may also used LinkedIn for professional reasons, neighbors want a separate service tailored to them.

"Your neighborhood identity is different to your social identity," he said.

Far from contributing to social-network fatigue, the existence of sites like Facebook would help boost interest in Nextdoor, said venture capitalist Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital who is funding Nextdoor along with Shasta Ventures, said

"Pre-Facebook, people might not understand the concept," he said. Nextdoor raised between $10-$15 million from Benchmark and Shasta, enough to sustain the company for two to three yaers, Tolia said.

Nextdoor has launched in a handful of neighborhoods around the country on a trial basis, and Wednesday opened to all neighborhoods around the country. The service is taking off in some areas, such as in the tech-friendly Menlo Park, Calif., neighborhood of Stanford Hills, where 74 out of 78 households are participating, Tolia said.

A burning discussion in Stanford Hills: what to do about stray dog waste. "Short of testing the dog poop for DNA in order to identify the culprits, we don't know what can be done to fix this problem," one Nextdoor member posted.

The groups are open only to residents of a particular neighborhood, and members must verify their residence, for example by entering a code they receive on a postcard mailed to their home address.

Eventually, the site will seek advertising from local merchants to build revenue, Tolia said.

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