Who is Nirav Tolia? Guest Shark Tank Judge

nirav tolia shark tank guest judge

Nirav Tolia made waves during his appearances on “Shark Tank” for his intelligent understanding of investment and his uncanny ability to pick good deals.

His business career has primarily consisted of many successes, all of which made him a wise choice for the show. Understanding his career can help people interested in investment feel more confident trying out a few themselves.

Personal History

Nirav Tolia was born to Indian immigrants in 1973 and was almost immediately surrounded by technology. His Texas upbringing included regular time working with various technological tools, unique electronics, and much more. Interestingly, Tolia did not major in a tech field or investment, but earned an English Literature degree from Stanford University in San Francisco.

His early career after college focused heavily on various odd jobs and eventually transitioned into the tech world. For example, he is the CEO and co-founder of Nextdoor, an app that provided various services for people based on their neighborhood.

However, his early career focused on developing Internet services and included user-generated content, social networking, and much more.

Starting at Yahoo

Before his major successes and current tech fame, Nirav Tolia was simply “Employee 84” at Yahoo. His time here taught him much about how the internet worked and the unique ways that reviews and customer interaction helped improve online content.

While working at Yahoo, he became interested in entrepreneurship and co-founded Epinions, one of the first product review sites online.

Epinions let users post reviews on products that they purchased, highlighting their pros, cons, and other features. Tolia worked here for many years as the CEE and COO while also working at Shopping.com to help this site gain market share.

Eventually, the company went public and was taken over by eBay, leaving Tolia in a unique position to head out in a different direction.

Nextdoor’s Development

Tolia’s success with Epinions and Shopping.com taught him some important lessons about internet connectivity. He believed that sites could connect communities and build real social groups.

Social media, still in its infancy, was at this point considered mostly silly or childish games. It was during this time that he founded Nextdoor and helped it grow into the world’s largest social network.

Nextdoor takes the idea of the social network and expands on, linking people to individuals in their physical community. Users can post reviews, share content, connect with new friends, and produce social groups beyond the web. This site’s success let Tolia retire as the CEO in 2018 to serve strictly as a chairman on the company’s board, where he still works to this very day.

Under his leadership and those of others in the company, Nextdoor has expanded to over 220,000 neighborhoods around the world and covers 90% of all American neighborhoods.

Other companies with a strong Nextdoor presence include Germany, Spain, Australia, France, and Italy. All of this success has helped Nirav earn a strong net value that makes him independently wealthy.

Net Worth

Over the years, Nirav Tolia has started many independent businesses and has typically seen them all through to some success. For example, Shopping.com was purchased by eBay for around $620 million during his venture. While Nirava didn’t get all this money, he got some and later used it to start companies like Fanbase, a popular crowd-sourced college athlete almanac.

Nextdoor is likely his biggest success and raised over $400 million in early funding to help make it a success and thriving venture. It’s all these successes that have helped Tolia earn a net worth of around $60 million or so. Much of this worth is estimated because his overall public wealth has not been made public. For example, it takes into account his recent $20 million home sale.

Like many venture capitalists, Tolia is constantly moving and shifting his money to new investments and finding other individuals interested in purchases. As a result, his value may grow and decrease depending on the year. Clearly it was enough to interest “Shark Tank,” who added him to their most recent season alongside many other investment professionals.

Shark Tank Details

“Shark Tank” brought in several different investment experts in season 13 or 2021-22. These included Emma Grede of Good American and Skims, Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den, Daniel Lubetzky of Kind, comedian and actor Kevin Hart, and Nirav Tolia. This unique combination of people has made season 13 a particularly interesting one for long-time fans of the show.

For example, Tolia has already made an impression during his short stint on the show by making several unexpected moves. While he doesn’t have a lot of deals to his name just yet due to the freshness of season 13, the deals he has made have mostly been quite good or at least understandable.

He and Kevin Hart in particular have had some interesting moments that make the show very interesting to watch.

Best/Worst Shark Tank Investments

Due to being so new to the show, Nirav has only a few investments to discuss. One of the most interesting of all of Nirav’s appearances was his very first time on “Shark Tank.”

He immediately got into a unique bidding war and eventually became very interested in a company called 54 Thrones. So far, this deal has been his most interesting and potentially successful, as his purchases are still so new that it’s hard to gauge whether they’ve been a success.

During this presentation, the company’s owner stated that he’d made around half a million dollars the previous year with only $8,000 used for marketing.

His initial offer was $250,000 and a 10% stake and the willingness to accept advice on advertising and much more. Unfortunately, investors like Mark Cuban and even Lori Grenier passed on the investment because they didn’t feel right for it.

Interestingly, Nirav also stated he wasn’t quite right for the job but made an offer because of his wife’s interest in skincare and his confidence in the business owner. After agreeing to give half the money, Kevin Hart pitched in with the other half, and they split a 17.5% equity.