‘All For We’: WeWork Acquires Meetup to Bolster Community

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Shared work space giant WeWork has acquired Meetup, the social community platform, in a marriage that compliments both brands’ strengths, in a transaction valued around $200 million.

The deal makes sense for both companies. Meetup events are already taking place in WeWork locations, with close to 100,000 people attending a Meetup at a WeWork space this year.

Founded in 2002, Meetup’s 35 million members use the service to find likeminded people sharing a common interest, be it drone racing, learning Dutch, physical fitness, culinary explorations or playing music.

More of a deliberately slow-growth company compared to WeWork, Meetup has raised close to $18 million to date from backers including eBay, Union Square Ventures and Twitter’s Ev Williams.

Meetup has kept its focus on community, and will continue to do so under its new ownership structure. “Our number one priority was independence and to live within our means,” CEO Scott Heiferman told Wired. “Our number two priority was growth.”

WeWork, in contrast, recently raised $4.4 billion from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, giving it a valuation that’s close to $20 billion, “putting it in league with Uber and Airbnb as one of the most highly valued private US tech startups,” as Wired notes.

Founded in 2010, WeWork offers shared work spaces in 15 locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reports 35 million members in 300,000 groups that host 500,000 events per month.

WeWork will use the monies for further acquisitions, a developing strategy for the startup that’s already snapped up six other companies, four of those in the past five months: FieldLens, Spacemob, Unomy and Flatiron School.

Meetup cofounder and CEO Scott Heiferman will remain in his role after the deal closes. “For years, organizers have told us how hard it is to find great spaces for their Meetups,” the company stated. “WeWork has beautiful spaces and a commitment to using them to create community. Last year, we noticed way more Meetups scheduled at WeWork locations. We got to talking, realized how we could unlock possibilities for each other, and one thing led to another.”

WeWork’s cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann has a different focus – becoming dominant in the future of physical space. “There are hundreds of thousands of Meetup organizers who are monthly payers who are already doing a great job. We can give the organizers a lot of tools,” Neumann added. WeWork’s current benefits include healthcare and office services.

“The sole question on the table for Meetup is, ‘How could we have more impact on the world?’” Heiferman says. “So this is a big bet on how we can make Meetup more of a global phenomenon.”

As the New York Times notes, “The transaction is the latest effort by WeWork to move beyond its origins as a provider of working spaces for freelancers and consultants to become a phenomenon that, its founders say, can reshape modern life. Whether WeWork can fulfill its bold promises remains to be seen, and skeptics say that the company at its core is a richly valued real-estate concern.”

Shiva Rajaraman, WeWork’s chief product officer, said the deal was inspired by a bigger reason, to bring a broader community to the company’s spaces. “It’s less about utilization and much more about that fundamental mission of connecting people to their purpose,” he said. “This is a great tool to introduce people to their passions.”

The last word from Heiferman, “We’re going to be a core part of WeWork. There’s a really great culture that we’re proud to be a part of.” Or as he told the Meetup community under the headline “We Have News” and pointed to a Medium story with details:

Meetup announces WeWork deal

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