Former Nextdoor CEO and Stanford alumnus Nirav Tolia teaches class on Silicon Valley for Stanford in Florence Program as of this Fall
Stanford in Florence is thrilled to announce that as of Fall 2019, long-time Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Stanford graduate Nirav Tolia, most recently CEO and co-founder of Nextdoor, will teach at the Program a class on Silicon Valley: The Modern Day Rebirth of Renaissance Florence. This class, with its interdisciplinary and global approach, will expose students to the crucial intersections between technology, entrepreneurship, and humanism that enabled two relatively small valleys to rise up and literally change the world.
Drawing upon 20 years of creating and leading Internet companies, Tolia will provide opportunities to learn from technology leaders and influencers across disciplines and with diversity of thought and methodology. Students living their daily lives in Florence – historically considered to be the original hub of creativity, genius and invention – will be encouraged to think critically about the lessons we can learn from that glorious past while examining how it paved the way for the new renaissance taking place in Silicon Valley today.
This course inaugurates a new curricular track in Florence that looks at the nexus between the approach to innovation respectively of the Florentine Renaissance and of the Silicon Valley. It focuses on what we can all learn when applying the Renaissance methods and know-how to the challenges and issues we face in the contemporary world. With an eye always looking to the future, one of the main goals will be to inform and define students’ pivotal roles as imminent trailblazers themselves.
In the fall of 2020, Stanford Professor Tom Byers—the first holder of the Entrepreneurship Professorship endowed chair in the School of Engineering, and also a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education—will be teaching onsite in Florence on Entrepreneurship and the Renaissance as well as offering directed readings on a Comparative Analysis of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Italy and the Silicon Valley.
Tolia, originally from Odessa, Texas, obtained his B.A. in English from Stanford. He has spent the last 20 years creating and leading early-stage, pioneering consumer Internet companies. Most recently, he was CEO and co-founder of Nextdoor, the world's largest local social network. He led the company from its inception in 2010 to the end of 2018. Over that time period, Nextdoor launched in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, and Australia, and was adopted by over 220k neighborhoods worldwide, including 90% of American neighborhoods. As CEO, he raised over $275M of venture capital for Nextdoor and grew its value to over $1.5B. Before his tenure at Nextdoor, he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital, one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capital firms. Prior to Benchmark, Nirav was COO of Shopping.com, a company he helped create through the merger of Dealtime and Epinions, where Tolia was CEO and co-founder. Shopping.com went public on Nasdaq and was later acquired by eBay for $620M. Before Epinions, he began his career as employee #84 at Yahoo!.
Every Stanford undergraduate should give serious consideration to studying overseas.
Regardless of the academic path you choose, you will be enriched by time spent in another country. Achieving cultural literacy and gaining substantive understanding of other perspectives in the world will deepen your awareness of yourself, your educational goals, and your own society. Nearly one-half of each graduating class studies abroad through one of Stanford's overseas programs.