Local Intelligence Adolescence, Nextdoor's Opportunity, Delta's Danger

Local Intelligence Adolescence, Nextdoor's Opportunity, Delta's Danger

Location Intelligence Enters a Challenging New Phase  

Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley said he's "stepping back" from his current role at the company (executive chairman, head of R&D). He'll remain on the board. (The evolution of Foursquare is a fascinating story.) Is Crowley bored, burned out? Probably. More interestingly, what does his move say about the segment as a whole, especially given new privacy rules and constraints? Location Intelligence is entering its awkward adolescence. The gee-whiz novelty phase of pioneering use cases for mobile-location data is over (i.e., targeting, attribution, BI, site selection, indoor navigation, improved CX). In the words of B.B. King, the thrill is gone.

Our take:

  • One of the new challenges is getting enough data to make attribution reliable. Android data is there, but more than 90% of iPhones are not.
  • The market has consolidated already to a significant degree (e.g., Foursquare bought Placed, then merged with Factual; inMarket bought ThinkNear and NinthDecimal, Near bought UberMedia). More to come.
  • Only a small number of companies will have enough data/scale to survive in an increasingly challenging location-tracking environment.

Nextdoor: Crisis and Opportunity

Somewhere in the Platonic world of forms there's a version of Nextdoor that meets the informational and commerce needs of its audience, helps SMBs gain exposure at reasonable cost and makes loads of money for investors without manipulation. That Nextdoor hasn't yet come into being. Axios has a good overview of the current state of things at the local-social network, which saw significant growth and engagement during COVID and which Facebook fears. Indeed, Nextdoor could become a more ethical version of Facebook for users and marketers. But there are challenges to overcome on the road toward an IPO. And being a public company will complicate things, with its corresponding growth imperative.

Source: Axios

Our take:

  • Nextdoor should aspire to be the only platform SMBs need – a better version of Yelp + Google (local). It could also be a B2B networking tool.
  • Nextdoor has done a lot to improve promotional tools for SMBs but it needs to do more. It also needs to improve the "local discovery" consumer experience.
  • Classifieds is another major opportunity, which Nextdoor recognizes. And so is e-commerce; so is local news.

Delta Variant May Turn Back COVID Clock

As we collectively celebrate the reopening and recovery of the US economy, it's important to point out only 47% of the population has been fully vaccinated (55% have had at least one dose). The highly communicable Delta Variant could quickly send things in the other direction – for example, masks have returned for the vaccinated in LA. The variant has also prompted new restrictions in multiple countries around the world. And some have likened the future of the coronavirus to AIDS, which is still very much here but no longer making headlines. More likely, COVID is poised to become a deadlier and more disruptive version of the annual flu cycle.

Source: Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Our take:

  • Much of the country has psychologically moved on and is increasingly impatient with lingering COVID-related restrictions.
  • It will be difficult if not politically impossible to reimpose stringent rules if cases continue to rise but not to true crisis levels.
  • Thus businesses are put in the position of having to define and enforce safety requirements, which is untenable and often dangerous.

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