O'Reilly logo

Analytics by Phil Simon

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

CHAPTER 11Racial Profiling at NextdoorUsing Data to Build a Better App and Combat a PR Disaster

Action expresses priorities.

—Mahatma Gandhi

By all accounts, Nirav Tolia seems like a generally jovial guy—and for good reason.

Tolia cofounded the “hyperlocal” social network Nextdoor in 2010 along with David Wiesen, Prakash Janakiraman, and Microsoft veteran Sarah Leary. Today, he serves as its CEO.

If you haven’t heard of it, Nextdoor is a useful app that fills a genuine need that Facebook does not: to connect with our neighbors. Today, millions of people in over 140,000 “microcommunities” use it.* Tolia has been front and center spreading the company gospel. Media appearances have flowed, including an appearance on Dr. Phil.

Tolia had to be downright giddy on March 3, 2015, when his company announced that it had raised $110 million in venture capital. The deal valued the company at more than $1 billion. Champagne all around: Nextdoor had reached the revered status of unicorn.

A scant three weeks later, all of that celebrating must have seemed like a distant memory. The news site Fusion published an article explaining how Nextdoor “is becoming a home for racial profiling.”1 As Pendarvis Harshaw wrote:

While Nextdoor’s ability to assist in crime-spotting has been celebrated as its “killer feature” by tech pundits, the app is also facilitating some of the same racial profiling we see playing out in cities across the country. Rather than bridging gaps between neighbors, Nextdoor ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required