One of the most sought-after, but never quite dominated, frontiers in online media and marketplaces has been centered on local communities.
There have been many attempts, most famously and disastrously with AOL’s Patch effort
Hoodline, a San Francisco-based startup, is trying to tackle this with a unique focus on news about neighborhood retail corridors. The startup has built up a network of news on about two-dozen neighborhoods across San Francisco as a sort of Trojan horse into a larger platform of hyperlocal listings and markets. (Disclosure: Hoodline co-founder Eric Eldon used to be my boss and was a co-editor of TechCrunch for a few years.)
The team at Hoodline has come up with a unique approach that combines high quality editorial content with a powerful technology platform for providing more than just news content. Charles Hudson, SoftTech
The platform currently has more readers than there are residents in the neighborhoods it covers. About a third of sessions come from users who are checking the site at least nine times per month, and traffic has quadrupled in the last year.
Hoodline’s bread and butter don’t overlap perfectly with what you’d find in the San Francisco Chronicle. They’ll pick up short items down to the block-by-block level about neighborhood businesses and event listings.
“We want to be accessible to everyone from the old-school progressives and to the tech workers,” Eldon says. “We’re quietly encouraging tech people to be more community minded — but don’t tell anyone that! What you really end up seeing with Hoodline is that the whole tech-San Francisco dichotomy is not as real when you look at it from the ground level.”
Underlying all of these bits of news is a technology platform that aims to quickly surface data on everything from building permits to crime. Because of this, editorial costs are relatively low between hundreds of short items and longer and larger budget pieces like this one on the city’s new homeless czar Sam Dodge.
“The team at Hoodline has come up with a unique approach that combines high-quality editorial content with a powerful technology platform for providing more than just news content,” said Charles Hudson, who invested in the company while he was at SoftTech.
They’re also experimenting with new products like an elections guide that makes recommendations based on the collective endorsements of different groups ranging from the various democratic clubs to LGBT clubs in the city. They’re also putting together event calendars for every neighborhood and also recently partnered with Nextdoor to run pilots on content.
Other investors include Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, Shervin Pishevar, Rob Benson, Matthew Cowan, Jes Wolfe, Jonathan Heiliger, Bill Lee, Cyan and Scott Banister, Ligaya Tichy and Nick Grandy.