Nextdoor is starting to grow up.
The local social networking startup, which aims to connect neighbors within small, closed online groups, is looking to move beyond its fledgling early days and scale up into a formidable engineering organization.
To that end, the company announced Tuesday it had named Dan Clancy, a nine-year Google veteran and former NASA Ames research director, as Nextdoor’s VP of engineering. It is Nextdoor’s first executive hire outside of its own founding team.
“We believe that we can become a standalone social network,” Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia said in an interview. “If you look at other networks, they have hundreds if not thousands of engineers. There aren’t many people who can manage teams of that size.”
Nextdoor has already grown considerably over 2013. Late last year, the company raised a $60 million round led by Kleiner Perkins and Tiger Global, adding Kleiner partner John Doerr as a special adviser to the company. Last summer, Nextdoor launched its mobile app, which Tolia said saw quick adoption over the last half of the year.
The company currently employs 80 to 100 people, about half in the engineering division. Tolia said it is looking to add many more over 2014, and has turned to Clancy to grow that team considerably.
“Somehow we’ve grown more separated from those people who are central to our day-to-day life,” Clancy said in an interview. “And those are our neighbors. I really believe Nextdoor is in a position to change that, to meet that demand that exists.”
During his nine years at Google, Clancy spent time managing Google’s book-scanning project and was an engineering and consumer product lead in the company’s YouTube unit. Before that, Clancy managed more than 700 people as director of the Information Sciences and Technology Directorate at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
“Very few people have run engineering teams that have tackled scaling issues at the level of YouTube,” said Bill Gurley, general partner at Benchmark, one of Nextdoor’s investors. “The remarkable growth at Nextdoor brings with it needs for technical scaling and we are in great hands with Dan.”