Sarah Friar leads Nextdoor’s neighbors into the public market


As a young girl who grew up in Northern Ireland during the turmoil, Sarah Friar witnessed the bombing and the blast shattering the windows of her home.

But Fryer also saw the best in human nature. In her small village founded by Quakers who strongly opposed apartheid, Catholics and Protestants lived side by side despite their differences and cruel conflicts around them.

“Even in this context, our neighbors-they are still the same people, they are still involved in our lives in disbelief. Although they are Catholics, we are Protestants,” Fryer accepted. “Financial Times” said in an interview. “You can still find a way to become a close friend.”

Now, as the CEO of the ultra-local social network Nextdoor, the 48-year-old is trying to recreate this friendship and blitzkrieg spirit online.

Compared with social media giants, Nextdoor was established in 2011 and has become a niche platform designed to allow neighbors to share local news, evaluate local businesses, and exchange goods and services.

After increasing engagement related to the pandemic and less than three years at the helm, Fryer announced on Tuesday that she will Make business public Through the merger with a special purpose acquisition company supported by Khosla Ventures, a total income of US$686 million was raised, and the business is valued at US$4.3 billion.

But as the company expands and continues to win the favor of Wall Street and the advertisers that drive its revenue, this also means subduing those keyboard guys who tend to draw curtains and racial profiling behind the screen.

For investors, the question remains whether this notorious good monk can ruthlessly squeeze these Annoying neighbor. Her supporters, such as Nextdoor board member John Hope Bryant (John Hope Bryant) have no doubt: “She is a samurai soldier who comes in gracefully, it looks like she is dancing, but she just throws you Cut into four pieces from Sunday,” Bryant said. “She’s not kidding.”

Friar was born as a district nurse and personnel manager in Northern Ireland. He strives to “go out and see the world”. In Silicon Valley, few CEOs have more diverse resumes, where the myth of talented founders is looming, and outside minds are rare.

After studying at Oxford University, Friar worked as a mining analyst at McKinsey in South Africa immediately after apartheid. Then, after the dot-com bubble and during the financial crisis, she worked at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco as a technology-focused stock analyst for more than ten years.

It was in this position that she met her mentor, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, who was initially angry that she had given his stock a “sell” rating. But the two soon discussed Silicon Valley trends regularly in a humorous manner.

When she found herself disillusioned with the financial world after the crisis, Fryer called Benioff and asked if she wanted to join a startup. A few minutes later, he called her back: “Work with me. Work with me, and you will learn more than in any of these small companies,” he said.

She took up an operational role for the first time as Salesforce’s senior vice president of finance and strategy, and then served as CFO for Jack Dorsey’s payment group Square for a longer time.

Vinod Khosla, the billionaire founder of venture capital group Khosla Ventures, stated that during Square, Fryer “was very satisfied with the reliable forecasts that made Wall Street very satisfied and helped the management team to make future investments. Balance”, he launched Spac on Tuesday.

“We don’t always agree, but we are happy to see these trade-offs,” he added.

Bill Gurley, a general partner at Benchmark Capital and a member of the Nextdoor board of directors, described the seduction of Fryer as CEO of Nextdoor in 2018 as a coup; in fact, the stock price of her former company fell by 15% at the time. “I remember the day after the announcement, I started to get affirmation from everyone in my network, that was,’How did you get her?'” he said.

Today, board members portray Friar as an ingenious communicator and a strong workaholic; one interviewee said that he was bombarded with very detailed briefings and board reports almost every day. Others say that she is a selfless leader, a quality that is rare among the typical masculinity technical elite.

Nevertheless, the bet on the recent Spac boom is a bold bet. Friar believes that the Spac process is simpler, shorter, and more predictable than IPOs. She said that she had talked with eight different Spacs, but was selective in terms of the “scale” and “brand” cooperation with Khosla.

T Rowe Price Associates, Soroban Capital, Ark Invest’s advisory accounts, and existing investor Tiger Global all participated-and Friar has her own skin in the game, putting what she calls “meaningful” amounts into private public equity investment .

According to investors, Nextdoor’s community of approximately 60 million verified users has generated US$123 million in revenue in 2020, mainly from advertising revenue, a year-on-year increase of nearly 50%. The company expects a similar growth rate this year at 44%. Despite this, the company is still at a loss, with a net loss of 75 million U.S. dollars last year and is expected to increase to 103 million U.S. dollars this year.

The shift to profitability will depend on whether Nextdoor’s hyper-local positioning promises can attract brands, many of which focus their advertising revenue on the duopoly of Facebook and Google. Several senior executives and analysts of advertising companies told the Financial Times that the platform is not in their focus. Friar has promised to make the company’s advertising products more mature.

At the same time, Friar continues to struggle with brand safety issues. There is no irony in that Nextdoor chose to list under the stock symbol $KIND. Concerned that parts of Nextdoor are still cesspools of bad behavior and misinformation, she proposed the same restraint that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did after numerous moderation scandals: “Look, we’re not perfect. .”

This article has been revised to clarify the nature of the bombing activities in Northern Ireland



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