Yesterday we wrote about a company called Venn raising $60 million to scale something it calls Neighborhood-as-a-Service (NaaS). It may sound a little silly, but the company seems to have gained some traction in convincing landlords that creating communities and not just places to live impacts their bottom lines.
Today Nextdoor, arguably the O.G. of NaaS, has rolled out some new features designed to build community, attract new users, and keep existing users engaged on its platform. Nextdoor saw an 80% increase in monthly listings to its buy, sell, and give away product since the start of 2020. And 25% of these items are listed as free.
One is Free Finds, a tool for users to share stuff they want to give away.
“Free Finds is an extension of a product loved by neighbors around the world,” said Rhett Angold, Product Lead at Nextdoor. “It’s your trusted neighborhood treasure map to live sustainably, save money, build connections, and of course find items for your everyday needs.”
Nextdoor also announced it has revamped its “For Sale and Free” feature, renaming it Nextdoor Finds. Nextdoor says it has redesigned this service to make it a more “tailored experience.” For example, it now offers personalized recommendations, Free Finds, unique categories such as “Neighbor Made” and “Neighbor Services,” and more.
Nextdoor is undeniably popular. Since launching in 2007, the platform has reached 27 million users across 276,000 neighborhoods. And it operates globally, with operations in the United States plus the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Canada.
And no doubt the pandemic has been good for engagement as people craved connection while sequestered in their homes.
Still, many describe the experience on Nextdoor as a mixed bag of helpful hints and petty gripes. And this has given rise to a “toxic” reputation for the platform. Nextdoor is clearly aware of this. For example, whenever you log in, this is what greets you.
Also, back in late 2019, Nextdoor rolled out a set of features designed to promote kindness. The main element was a “kindness reminder” that pops up before a user publishes a comment. The idea was to give those about to post a nasty comment an opportunity to think twice before publishing.
A Day in the Nextdoor Life
To experience it first hand, I spent part of this afternoon in my Nextdoor “neighborhood”. I didn’t come across anything as horrifying as some of the examples that have been widely shared over the years.
However, I did learn, to my horror, that there are not enough open changing rooms open at the local Macy’s. This poster says they dropped their items and stormed out in a huff. Thankfully their experience was much, much better at Bloomies. I also learned that curbside waits at the local Portillos can now exceed 20 minutes.
Whiny posts aside, Nextdoor’s utility is readily apparent. The platform has proven its worth as a go-to resource for finding lost dogs or sourcing recommendations for local service pros. In fairness, most of the posts and comments I reviewed today were friendly and helpful.
Still, it doesn’t take much to bring out the worst in people. Nextdoor is clearly aware of this. And it appears to be steadily working on ways to minimize the toxicity. This is important, given so many people rely on Nextdoor as their eyes and ears in their local communities.