APB’s Maryam Banikarim Helps Neighbors Connect With Her Platform, Nextdoor, the Go-to Place for Critical Information
23 Jun 2021
When APB speaker Maryam Banikarim decided to return to the workforce after a year-and-a-half hiatus, she never imagined her new job would play a major role in helping millions navigate one of the worse crises of the century. And this same event would skyrocket her company’s social platform growth. Banikarim, former CMO of Hyatt Hotels, joined social media company Nextdoor as CMO just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began ravaging the world and forcing us to stay home.
Nextdoor is the world’s leading private social network for neighborhoods. The app has become a neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods and services across the U.S., Canada and Europe. It was created after its founders learned in a 2008 Pew Research Study that fewer than half of American adults know most or all of their neighbors.
Banikarim says she doesn’t own a Magic 8 Ball and would have never predicted the pandemic or the pivotal role Nextdoor would play. “I didn’t know neighbors and neighborhoods is where it is at,” she says. “I simply made a decision based on my purpose--to create connections that built communities that make a difference."
Nextdoor, which has been described as a digital local bulletin board, was a natural fit for Banikarim. It was—and still is—a great place to learn about your kids’ snow days or to get recommendations from your neighbors for the best dentist in town, karate lessons or even posts about lost animals, etc. And then, March 2020 hit and Nextdoor became so much more.
With lockdowns everywhere, Banikarim and her team began concentrating on getting critical news to its subscribers. “Our first focus was on providing accurate, real-time information about the pandemic to our users,” she said in an interview with Columbia Business School, her alma mater. “We have partnerships with the CDC and equivalent government agencies in our other markets.”
For Banikarim, the explosive growth of Nextdoor just makes sense. “Community matters,” she says. “There is so much data that shows people who are connected to their community are better off financially and emotionally. I think as we become more virtually connected, we become more disconnected from people physically close to us.”
In the future, the company will continue to find ways for its users to engage with their neighbors as they venture out of their homes--getting them offline and connecting in person. “Being connected, knowing each other and just being there for each other is something that is just inherent in our nature … It actually matters to know the people near you—your neighbors,” Banikarim says.