Better than Facebook? Nextdoor Broke the Social Network Mold

Nextdoor, the social network that helps neighbors talk to each other, has a billion-dollar valuation and a presence in streets from San Jose to Liverpool. But according to its CEO, none of the tech giants are interested in acquiring it.

"Facebook, Google, those guys haven't actually come and talked to us," said Nirav Tolia.

"It's maybe hard, when you're the big Goliath, to take some of these little mice seriously," he added. "And we're OK being a mouse... Because the mouse is getting stronger every day."

Tolia, 45, is a fast-talking businessman with a string of startups and a penchant for hubristic mouse metaphors. He is the archetype of a California tech entrepreneur.

Nextdoor, in contrast, breaks the Silicon Valley mold.

The company -- an unapologetically utilitarian place to share recommendations about dentists, find out where to dump a used sofa or receive alerts about local police activity -- has been expanding across the US over the past seven years.

It has been a very different path to the shooting-star trajectory of viral, app-based startups. "We're not Snapchat, we're not Instagram," Tolia said. "We don't have 50 million users in six months." One reason for the delayed growth has been Nextdoor's reliance on a kind of crowd-sourced approach to defining neighborhoods, in which communities themselves draw the borders to their communities and name them.

But that "slow and steady" approach is starting to pay off, Tolia said, adding that the company now has "tens of millions" of users. (A company spokesperson later said the figure is usually described as "millions.")

Still, the growth has been impressive. Five years ago, Nextdoor had just 7,000 neighborhood groups. Today it claims to have more than 137,000 -- which it says amounts to roughly 70% of America's neighborhoods. And now the company is making forays into Europe, via recent launches...

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